Skip to main content

Full text of "Among friends"

See other formats




CSfj 



\MONG 
■ RIENDS 



r^< 



r^o 






FLORENCE M.'FISHERDICK. 



FLORENCE M. FISHERD1CK. 



V 






38p Samuel f&. Crotbeta 



OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES: THE AUTO- 
CRAT AND HIS FELLOW BOARDERS. With 
portrait. i6mo, 75 cents, net. Postage 7 cents. 

AMONG FRIENDS. i2mo, $1.25, net. Postage 
extra. 

BY THE CHRISTMAS FIRE. i2mo, $1.25, net. 
Postage 10 cents. 

THE PARDONER'S WALLET. i2mo, I1.25, net. 
Postage 11 cents. 

THE ENDLESS LIFE. i6mo, gilt top, 75 cents, 
net. Postage 6 cents. 

THE GENTLE READER. i 2 mo, $1.25, net. Post- 
paid, $1.37. 

MISS MUFFET'S CHRISTMAS PARTY. Illus- 
trated. Square nmo, $1.00 net. Postpaid $1.08. 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 
Boston and New York 



AMONG FRIENDS 



&AMONG 
FRIENDS 



BY SAMUEL McCHORD CROTHERS 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

MDCCCCX 



COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY SAMUEL MCCHORD CROTHERS 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

Published November iqio 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

AMONG FRIENDS i 

THE ANGLO-AMERICAN SCHOOL OF POLITE 

UNLEARNING 25 

THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS ... 64 

THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS ... 96 

IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS . . . . 129 

MY MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA . . 169 

THE COLONEL IN THE THEOLOGICAL SEM- 
INARY 194 

THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS .... 222 

THE MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION . . 254 



AMONG FRIENDS 



IT is not so much what is said, as the person 
who says it, that makes an impression. One 
whom we distrust makes a remark, and it is at 
once invested with a sinister meaning. We are 
sure there is harm in it. Another person utters 
the same sentiment, and it is accepted as the 
suggestion of ripe wisdom. 

Thus we are shocked at the inquiry of a cer- 
tain New York politician whose reputation was 
not that of an idealist : " What 's the Constitution 
among friends?" We scent treason. The civic 
conscience is aroused and bristles with fine moral 
indignation. We would have this gentleman and 
his friends know that we set great store by the 
Constitution. This venerable document is not to 
be treated lightly by persons who are no better 
than they should be. It is to be interpreted by 
the Supreme Court, and is not to be meddled 
with by political tricksters. 

But we turn to the seventeenth century and 



2 AMONG FRIENDS 

dip into Selden's " Table-Talk." Selden is good 
company. He is the friend of Hampden and 
Pym and Sir John Eliot and all the leaders in 
the movement for constitutional freedom. He is 
a profound jurist and a pleasant companion, and 
the men most worth knowing meet at his table, 
where they informally discuss the great affairs of 
state. One day the question arises as to the place 
of the House of Commons in the scheme of 
government. Appeal is made to certain acts of 
Parliament as if they settled the question once 
for all. To this Selden replies : " The House of 
Commons is called the Lower House in twenty 
acts of Parliament ; but what are twenty acts of 
Parliament among friends ? " 

At once we answer: what indeed! Acts of 
Parliament are very well in their way, but we 
want to get at something more fundamental. An 
act of Parliament is what these gentlemen and 
their friends see fit to proclaim to the world. But 
now that we are privileged to enter the inner 
circle, we should like to know what they really 
think. Since they took formal action it is possible 
that they may have changed their minds. 

We are among men who are dealing freely 



AMONG FRIENDS 3 

with matters which to the commonalty are in- 
vested in mystery. These law-makers are too sensi- 
ble to bow down and worship the work of their 
own hands. They are rather inclined to tinker 
with their political contrivances, to see if they 
may not be made to work better. There is more 
than one way of doing a good thing, and they 
are ready for experiments. In such company 
great affairs take on a homely aspect. We begin 
to see that Parliament is made up of folks. These 
folks have all the ordinary aptitudes for making 
mistakes. They are subject to prejudice, and they 
are often compelled to act, as do the rest of 
us, from imperfect knowledge. Their pompous 
language at first imposes upon us and obscures 
the plain meaning. But when we get used to it 
we see that it is only a mannerism. These honest 
gentlemen are trying to do their duty, though 
often with considerable bungling. 

All this is taken for granted among friends. 
Freed from any hampering assumptions of im- 
peccability or infallibility they can cheerfully 
discuss not only what they have done but also 
what they have tried to do. They are not ashamed 
to talk about their failures as well as about their 



4 AMONG FRIENDS 

successes. It is all a part of their common experi- 
ence. 

This free movement of the mind among its 
own works, with its frank criticism of its inci- 
dental shortcomings, is one of the pleasures of 
really good society. We are delighted when we 
fall in with people who are doing things and who 
are kind enough to take us into their confidence 
and chat with us while they work. When we catch 
them in the very act, they are so much more in- 
teresting than anything which they actually ac- 
complish. There are a hundred little self-revela- 
tions that would never have a place in a dignified 
history. 

Yet curiously enough there is nothing which 
the ordinary mortal is so ashamed of as being 
surprised in the midst of unfinished work. The 
good woman shelling peas on the back porch 
makes a pleasant picture. She is looking her best, 
if she only knew it But when a caller from out- 
side her own circle appears, she bustles about, 
removes her gingham apron, the badge of her 
interesting domestic avocations, and receives her 
guest in the characterless best room. 

Only among her friends will she continue to 



AMONG FRIENDS 5 

shell peas while she gossips about the things she 
really cares for. And if they are very good friends 
she will allow them to take a hand in the morn- 
ing's work. 

In like manner the men who are carrying on 
great undertakings are usually sensitive about 
being caught in their working clothes. They 
" make company " of the public and exhibit only 
their completed work. Of course that is not what 
any one wants to see. The political orator will 
point with pride to what his party has accom- 
plished in the past, while he maintains a decent 
reserve as to its attitude in regard to the burning 
questions of the day. This is safe, for dead issues 
tell no tales, but it is not interesting. Spent deeds 
and accomplished facts may be arranged neatly 
for exhibition. But our curiosity is aroused in 
regard to half-formed purposes, vague aspirations, 
and unsuccessful attempts. We want to know, 
not so much what a man has done as what he 
is trying to do. 

One of the simplest of rural delights is that of 
burning brush. The odds and ends of the clearing 
are thrown together higgledy-piggledy, till one 
has satisfied the primaeval desire for chaos. Then, 



6 AMONG FRIENDS 

when the match is lighted, the fire dances like 
mad through the dry boughs. There is no sug- 
gestion of order in the long, uneven tongues of 
flame. It is only when, in the still air, the fire has 
burned itself out, that we see any symmetrical 
arrangement. There is then a circle of ashes sur- 
rounded by a circumference of the charred ends 
of sticks. Each poor survivor points decorously 
to the centre as if to say, u There was a hot time 
awhile ago, and things looked rather mixed. But 
discipline reasserts itself, and here we are, all that 
are left of us, standing decently and in order." 

How perfectly simple old controversies always 
seem ! All the confusing elements were burned 
up. When we read about them the only wonder 
is that anybody could have been confused. Yet 
at the time everybody was taking sides vigor- 
ously, and no two persons could agree as to what 
it was all about. Personal likes and dislikes, 
prejudices and frailties, religious affections and 
affections that were not so religious, were all 
mixed up together. 

When we are dealing with human nature at 
first hand this complexity always appears. Persons 
who have a love of system which is stronger than 



AMONG FRIENDS 7 

the passion for reality have a way of putting an 
orderly arrangement of hard facts in place of vital 
processes. They look upon the deed as more im- 
portant than the doer, the thought than the 
thinker. 

This is the molluscous point of view. The 
mollusk differs from the vertebrate in that he 
wears his bones on the outside. To him this ap- 
pears to be the only safe and sane fashion. Pre- 
senting an ossified surface to the world, he feels 
that he is adequately protected from his natural 
enemies. There is a certain advantage in this, but 
it has its drawbacks. While his hard exterior 
prevents the world from getting at him, it also 
prevents him from getting at the world. A bivalve 
loses many of those reactions with his environ- 
ment which are so necessary to the educational 
process. Therefore bivalves never evolve a civ- 
ilization. 

Institutions, laws, systems, customs, creeds, 
conventions, are the bony structure of social life. 
Without them we were jelly-fish indeed, and 
the prey of every passing circumstance. But the 
question is whether they shall be considered from 
the molluscous or from the vertebrate point of 



8 AMONG FRIENDS 

view. Shall they serve as a backbone or as a 
shell? 

It is too late now to lament the invention of 
the alphabet. It has come and come to stay. But 
we may confess that the great Illiterates to whom 
we owe what is fundamental in our laws, our re- 
ligion, and our poetry, had the advantage of us 
when it came to getting at the human element in 
truth. There were no books, but only men think- 
ing; no written creeds, but only men believing; 
no biographical dictionaries, but only tribal he- 
roes who were remembered. There being no arti- 
ficial way of preserving thoughts, they had to use 
them fresh. Indeed a thought was real to them 
only while they were thinking it. When they 
got through with that they had to think of another. 
They had to make much use of meditation and 
conversation. In those days the intellectual work- 
ing classes were not confronted with the idle 
rich, who live on the unearned increment of the 
general advance in knowledge and with whom 
it is " easy come, easy go." People who had to 
do their own thinking knew what every thought 
cost. 

We who get our ideas through books and 



AMONG FRIENDS 9 

lectures rather than through the free conversa- 
tional method, are likely to fall victims to the 
formality of our instructors. There is a certain 
finality in a treatise that imposes on us. It is a 
one-sided performance. The party of the first 
part has an advantage over the party of the second 
part and uses it mercilessly. There is a monopoly 
which results in a restraint of the trade of think- 
ing. The monopolist pushes his own idea, and 
crowds out all competitors. 

We even get the conception of a thought as 
a commodity that can be passed from one person 
to another without losing its value. A publisher 
working on this assumption advertises a " Dic- 
tionary of Thoughts." He asks, " Have you not 
sometimes felt the need of a thought on some 
subject ?" Of course we have, and are at once 
interested. In answer to this felt need he has 
compiled his dictionary, which contains thirty 
thousand thoughts of sixteen hundred of the 
world's greatest thinkers. "When you want a 
thought look for it just as you would for a word 
in the dictionary." 

At a time when the cost of living is increasing 
by leaps and bounds, it is encouraging to find 



io AMONG FRIENDS 

that the cost of thinking is so reasonable. One 
can get thirty thousand thoughts for $2.98. 

As a thought is conceived of as something 
that can be stored away in a book, so reverence 
for the Law sometimes takes the form of reverence 
for certain printed words beginning with the awe- 
inspiring formula, " Be it enacted." That the law 
should be enforced seems unnecessary ; its proper 
place is on the statute-book, where it is respected 
as a counsel of perfection. So attempts to make 
the conduct of the citizens conform to the law 
or the law conform to the ordinary conduct of 
the citizen are resisted with the same earnestness. 
We may see whole communities so encrusted 
with statutory virtue that it is impossible to know 
what they are really like. 

Religion is liable to the same incrustation, as 
you may learn if you attempt to read almost any 
formal church history. You begin with pleasant 
anticipations. You think you are to have the 
story of the Christians and learn what they have 
been doing during these many centuries to realize 
the beatitudes and put the Golden Rule on a busi- 
ness basis. You will have a succession of personal 
narratives like the Acts of the Apostles. But after 



AMONG FRIENDS n 

the first century it is evident that the author loses 
the thread of the narrative. There is a great deal 
about Councils and Heresies and Schisms and 
Creeds and Decretals and Liturgies and Reforma- 
tions and Counter-reformations. But what has 
become of the Christians ? 

Even Philosophy, which is a brave attempt to 
winnow the wheat from the chaff, and to rescue 
the essential from the non-essential, is liable to be 
encased in a formalism of its own. It is in its 
main intent a rebellion against the tyranny of the 
external. Its characteristic expression is in what 
Lord Bacon called " sober satire ; or the insides 
of things." To one who is curious about the in- 
sides of things there is something ludicrous in 
the assumption of the matter-of-fact man that he 
knows it all, and that realities are the same as 
appearances. " What is a matter of fact ? " asks 
the philosopher ; " pray show me one." But the 
philosopher, being human, is as likely as the rest 
of us to fall a victim to the ambition to make 
a fair show in the world. Having exposed the 
matter-of-fact world, he proceeds to construct a 
world out of matter-of-theory. He has the same 
feeling toward his doctrines that the tradesman 



12 AMONG FRIENDS 

has toward his goods which he is arranging attract- 
ively in the show-window. 

This interest in the arrangement of his ideas 
becomes more important to him as his surprise 
over their novelty grows less. That happens in 
the grave philosophical world which happens in 
the hen-yard to the distress of the manager. A 
fowl of excellent breed will go on cheerfully lay- 
ing an egg a day and calling upon her friends 
to rejoice over each achievement. Then suddenly 
she becomes irritably self-conscious and anti-social. 
She is on the defensive and insists on sitting on 
the one china egg rather than any longer contrib- 
uting to the common store. 

So the philosophic mind is liable to become 
" broody." It is then no longer content to produce 
fresh thoughts. It must hatch out a complete 
system of its own. The philosopher in this mood 
is irritable beyond the wont of ordinary mortals. 
When another philosopher approaches he flies at 
him, for he suspects that he has come to destroy 
his metaphysical nest-eggs. 

A glance at a philosophical library will show 
how many huge volumes have been the result of 
this mood. A philosopher is at his best when 



AMONG FRIENDS 13 

he is thinking a new thought, he is at his worst 
when he is defending his old thoughts against 
all comers. This is a sore trial to his temper and 
does not really improve his intellect. Now and 
then we find one who keeps on thinking, without 
caring very much what becomes of his thoughts. 
He knows that there are more where they come 
from. Then you have a Plato whose philosophy 
takes the form, not of a system, but of a conversa- 
tion among friends. 

The beauty of a conversation is that the other 
side always has a chance. There is no finality as 
the friendly speech goes on in a series of polite 
half-contradictions. " What you were saying just 
now was very interesting and was quite true in 
its way. It reminds me of an experience which I 
once had which shows that the subject may be 
looked at in a different way." 

The natural man, or rather the natural boy, 
puts these contradictions more bluntly. Huckle- 
berry Finn and his compeers begin the conversa- 
tion with " You lie ! * which leads to the clever 
repartee " You 're another ! " ; after which they 
feel acquainted. 

As we grow more maturely civilized, these 



i 4 AMONG FRIENDS 

sharp antagonisms are softened until they become 
merely a pleasing variety ; or, in Milton's phrase, 
"brotherly dissimilitudes not vastly dispropor- 
tionable." In order to have a conversation with 
you, it is not necessary for me to assume that 
the truth is not in you, but only that you have 
approached the truth from a somewhat different 
angle. You had overstated one side in order that 
I might make the needed correction. 

Two Infallibilities, each speaking ex cathedra, 
could not converse; they could only fulminate. 
After the first round they would relapse into sullen 
silence. When we start out with the easy assur- 
ance of mutual fallibility, we can go on indefi- 
nitely setting each other right. Thinking comes 
to be a cooperative industry in which we share 
the profits. We not only reason, but we reason 
together. 

In free conversation the truth slips out that 
would be carefully concealed in a formal docu- 
ment. We perceive not only what was done but 
the " moving why they did it." 

King James the First was one of the most 
voluminous of royal writers, and in the huge 
folio volume that contains his complete works 



AMONG FRIENDS 15 

you may see so much of the working of his mind 
as he chose to exhibit to the public. He wrote 
with the intent to prove that the mind of a King 
by Divine Right moved always in a lofty orbit 
of its own. But in the report of a little conversa- 
tion one sees how it actually did work. Selden 
had written a monumental work giving many 
reasons in support of His Majesty's claims over 
the surrounding seas. It was a labored vindication 
of one of the King's favorite doctrines. But when 
it was presented to him, he withheld his approval, 
and would not allow its publication. " I have 
borrowed money," said His Majesty, "of my 
brother of Norway, and I intend to borrow more." 

This is not the kind of reason that would be 
presented in a dignified state paper, but it is one 
which every canny Scot in the King's dominions 
could understand. After all, the mind of a King 
by Divine Right worked in a way that was quite 
comprehensible. 

What is lost in dignity is gained in reality. 
Among friends there is no talking down or talk- 
ing against, no undue moralizing or sentimental- 
izing. Apologies are not in order where people 
know each other and make allowances for mutual 



1 6 AMONG FRIENDS 

imperfections. Each working Tgroup is held to- 
gether by tacit understandings which are the 
result of much talking together while they work. 
Beneath all superficial differences there is a solid- 
arity of sentiment that is taken for granted. 

But between men of different groups there are 
direful misunderstandings. When once the idea 
of hostility is implanted every deed is interpreted 
at its worst. It stands out in stark iniquity, with- 
out any kindly voice to plead for it. " An enemy 
hath done this!" That is enough. Age-long feuds 
between classes and parties and nations have been 
the results. 

One of the most cheering signs of the times is 
in the increased use of the conversational method 
in the settlement of such disputes. The idea is 
that men of different groups should come together 
and converse freely on the matters that concern 
them. Their deliberate aim should be to under- 
stand one another. After they have succeeded in 
that, they may resume their hatred if they can. 
The chances are that they will form a larger 
group, and a new group-consciousness will grow 
up. In such free conferences old antagonisms 
born of fear die away and are forgotten. 



AMONG FRIENDS 17 

Our own ideas are clarified when we make 
friends with persons of a different way of think- 
ing. " Every man seemeth right in his own eyes ; 
but his neighbor cometh and trieth him." 

If you, dear reader, are a hard-headed business 
man, you have many ideas that seem right in 
your own eyes. When you were a boy you were 
taught the fundamental virtues of thrift, industry, 
and honesty. You have made your own way in 
the world by hard work. You are no dreamer, 
yet you are a great believer. You believe in 
Progress and Prosperity and Success. You are 
also a believer in Democracy, by which you 
mean the right of any one else to strive for the 
things you strove for and get them if he can. 
You would tolerate no artificial barriers in the 
way of Progress. 

Just what Progress is, is a speculative ques- 
tion which you do not care to discuss. You are a 
practical man, and it is sufficient for you to know 
that any one who stands in the way of Progress 
will be run over. And it will serve him right. 
The direction of Progress is determined, not by 
our moral preferences (which are all right in their 
way), but by Natural Law. Find out what Natu- 



1 8 AMONG FRIENDS 

ral Law is about to make everybody do, and 
then do it before they know what it is. That is 
Success. Success consists, not in doing what you 
want to do and doing it well ; it is doing what 
you have to do and being quick about it. It is to 
" get there." Where " there " is, is another matter 
that does n't much concern a practical man. A 
newspaper poet wrote of his hero, — 

He came from where he started 
On the way to where he went. 

He was successful if he got to where he went be- 
fore other people arrived. Then he could preempt 
the territory, and wait for Prosperity. We should 
all believe in Prosperity, even if it takes our last 
cent. 

As for the Future, it is very bright if only 
enough people will continue to sacrifice them- 
selves to Prosperity, and not interfere with Natu- 
ral Law. If we can keep irresponsible agitators 
from tinkering with the Tariff and other Business 
Interests, Natural Law will eliminate the unfit 
and Progress will go on. We will make many 
more things that we do not want, and sell them at 
a profit to people whom we can persuade to buy 



AMONG FRIENDS 19 

them whether they want them or not. In this way 
we shall advance Civilization. 

But if the people keep all the time interfering 
with Natural Law and telling the Business In- 
terests what they ought not to do, they will fall 
into Socialism, — and then what will become of 
them? 

When you put these thoughts into an after- 
dinner speech at the Mercantile Club, they were 
received with much applause. 

Or it may be, dear reader, that you are not a 
hard-headed business man, but a hard-headed re- 
former. You have done a good deal of reading 
and not a little thinking on these lines, and have 
come to some definite conclusions. You have a 
Programme, which you expect to see fulfilled to 
the letter. Like our friend the business man, you 
are a great believer in Natural Law, but you see 
into it a little further than he does. Natural Law 
is about to spring a great surprise on him and his 
kind. By a few simple processes, which you ex- 
plain at length, it has built up that sum of all 
villainies, the Existing Order. Some well-mean- 
ing persons are wasting their time in trying to 
patch up the Existing Order, and to remove 



2o AMONG FRIENDS 

some of its worst evils. But they disquiet them- 
selves in vain. Like the "One-Hoss Shay" it is 
built in such a logical way that it will go to 
pieces all at once. Just wait and see. The plan 
is for Natural Law forcibly to feed Capitalism, as 
if it were a Strasburg goose. When it has be- 
come incredibly fat, it is to be killed and carved 
for the benefit of the hungry Proletariat. This 
will happen if the meddling bourgeois philan- 
thropists don't interfere with Natural Law, so 
that by that time there won't be any hungry pro- 
letariat. 

After the Big Business is " taken over," we will 
proceed to take over the little businesses, and 
after that we will arrange the matter of the Fam- 
ily. There is still some difference of opinion on 
this point. However, the Family is either a kind 
of Property or it is dependent on Property, and 
it will probably have to go. To be sure, in the 
Existing Order there are some families that 
have n't any property to speak of and are held 
tegether by a sentimental bond. You confess that 
this is a rather difficult part of the programme, 
and you will not commit yourself to a final opin- 
ion till you look it up in a book. But of one 



AMONG FRIENDS 21 

thing you are sure, and that is that the final ar- 
rangement will be the one that is most logical 
and which carries out in most complete detail 
the programme of your party. 

You put these thoughts into a fiery speech 
which the members of your party approved. 

Now it would be very easy to take the remarks 
of you two gentlemen seriously, and see two 
great opposing principles which are bound to 
come into collision. On the one side there is a 
hard unyielding commercialism anxious to per- 
petuate itself, and on the other a radical recon- 
struction of society on definite plans and with 
specifications that are well understood. We must 
all take sides and choose once for all between 
this and that. 

But before we get unduly excited let us take 
into consideration the fact that the direction of 
social progress is everybody's business, and we 
cannot tell what will be done till everybody has 
been consulted. It takes more than one thorough- 
going Socialist to make a revolution, and it takes 
more than one hard-headed business man to pre- 
vent it. If there is to be a revolution we are to be 
the revolutionists, — not some of us, but all of us. 



22 AMONG FRIENDS 

It will not be the effortless advance of disem- 
bodied ideas, but changes in the feeling, thinking, 
and acting of multitudes of living men and women. 
There must be a working majority in favor of 
each change. 

This being the case, the opinion of any indi- 
vidual, or even any one class, as to the exact 
way in which everybody's business is to be done, 
while interesting, is not so exciting as it seems at 
first. When a bill comes out of committee, it 
often looks so different that the original proposer 
does not recognize it as his own. All proposals 
for the betterment of mankind have to be sub- 
mitted to the judgment of mankind. In this way 
they receive many amendments. 

Even if Socialism were adopted by the people 
of the United States, it would only be that kind 
of Socialism which the people of the United 
States approved, and which fitted in with their 
political, social, and religious habits. It would be 
very different from the logical system which one 
of our friends insists upon, and from the Red Peril 
which the other fears. The logicians might try 
their hands in running the complicated business 
according to their cut-and-dried system. 



AMONG FRIENDS 23 

Our business friend says the country under 
their management would soon go into the hands 
of a receiver. In that case the hard-headed busi- 
ness man, with his equally able friends, would be 
appointed receivers, with instructions to adminis- 
ter the concern in the interest of all the stock- 
holders. And the chances are that they would 
accept the job, and there is no reason why they 
should not make a success of it. 

When we come together in sufficiently large 
numbers, and with a sufficiently generous spirit, 
party labels and grandiose programmes of action 
lose their significance. They only indicate what 
some of us would like to do, they do not indicate 
what all of us will do. 

When the New Boy, with a will of his own, 
enters the playground, he states with great pre- 
cision his views as to what should be done. He 
makes his demands in a tone that satisfies his 
sense of public duty. But the little body politic 
is not greatly disturbed. The other boys inquire, 
" Will you have it now or will you wait till you 
can get it ? " After a trial of strength the New 
Boy decides that he will wait a while. After a 
time he comes to the conclusion that before he 



24 AMONG FRIENDS 

can accomplish much he must establish friendly 
relations. Perhaps he is not the only one to be 
consulted, and he might as well inquire as to 
what the other fellows want to do. When he 
reaches this point he has learned what it means 
to be a member of Society. 

After all, what are Civilizations, and the Rights 
of Man, and the Progress of the Species, and 
Philosophy and Political Economy, and Social- 
ism and Individualism, and Representative Gov- 
ernment, and all the other great subjects, among 
friends ? They are only the provisional answers 
to the questions which we ask when we begin 
to make ourselves at home in the world: How 
are all the folks? How are they getting on 
with their work, and how do they make both 
ends meet? What are the young people think- 
ing about, and what new notions have they got 
into their heads ? On the whole, how do you 
think they are coming out? 



THE ANGLO-AMERICAN SCHOOL OF 
POLITE UNLEARNING 



IN the exuberant hospitality of America, if a 
person wants anything he has only to ask for 
it. Whether he gets it, is another matter ; he will 
at least get something with the same name. 

In London, if one in his secret] heart longs for 
something, he has only to leave the main thor- 
oughfares and get lost. He finds himself in a 
maze of narrow streets where shopkeepers make 
a living by selling unheard-of things to people 
who have wandered in by accident. These shop- 
keepers never advertise. Their disposition is se- 
cretive, and they trust to the method of ambush. 
A person is walking along with only a vague 
impulse to find his way out without demeaning 
himself by asking advice of a policeman. He 
finds himself in front of a shop devoted to traffic in 
snails from Astrakhan. It is the sole emporium for 
these articles. If the wayfarer be of an inquiring 
mind, the unexpected supply wakens a demand, 



26 POLITE UNLEARNING 

at least the demand for further knowledge. Who 
is there in all London who would be likely to 
support such a shop, or even know that it is here ? 
The dingy sign appeals not to his conscious aims 
but to a dim sub-conscious longing for he knows 
not what. It seems a very strange coincidence 
that he of all persons in the world should have 
come upon the only place in London where these 
articles are for sale. The chances are that if he be 
an American he will pluck up courage and ven- 
ture in and ask the proprietor, " How 's the snail- 
trade to-day?" The shopkeeper receives him 
without surprise. He knows that, according to 
the doctrine of probabilities, somebody is bound 
to turn up in his shop, sometime. 

To my mind this is the very romance of trade. 
Had I a moderate but assured income, as I trust 
all these London shopkeepers have, I should fol- 
low their example. I have no ambition to be a 
great " captain of industry," and have the maga- 
zine writers tell the truth about me. I should 
prefer to be one of these merchant adventurers 
in a small way. Hiding my shop from the un- 
sympathetic public "as if the wren taught me 
concealment," I should bide my time. Let the 



POLITE UNLEARNING 27 

huge department stores cater to the obvious wants 
of the crowd. Some day my customer will drift 
in. He will find that my shop satisfies an inner, 
and hitherto unfelt, want. He will inadvertently 
buy something. Then he will drift off to the An- 
tipodes, and ever after boast of his bargain. 
When he compares notes with other travelers, he 
will take down his treasure and ask, " When you 
were in London did you happen upon a queer 
little shop, the only place where they sell this 
sort of thing?" And when they, in shamefaced 
fashion, confess their failure to have discovered me, 
they will fall in his esteem. 

I claim no merit for having one day wandered 
from the plain path of High Holborn into an ob- 
scure street where I accidentally stumbled upon 
what was to me the most interesting place in 
London. I am aware that, if I had not stumbled 
accidentally upon it, it would not have seemed so 
interesting to me. It was not, as it happened this 
time, a shop, but an educational institution. The 
sign above the door must have been recently 
painted, but the London smoke had already given 
it an air of grimy respectability. I read with 



28 POLITE UNLEARNING 

pleasure the legend, "The Anglo-American 
School of Polite Unlearning." 

I was gratified over my discovery. Institutions 
of learning we have at home — and some very 
good ones too ; but I realize that, in the nature of 
things, somewhere in London there must be an 
institution for the benefit of persons who are de- 
sirous, not so much of learning, as of being as- 
sisted to unlearn a number of things that are not 
good for them. And here it was. Like so many 
things in London, the moment I saw it, I felt that 
I had always seen it. 

A few moments later I was in familiar converse 
with the Principal of the school, who gave me 
the history of the institution from its inception. 
He was a quiet, unassuming man, thoroughly 
devoted to his idea. In this age of educational 
fads it was a pleasure to find some one who ad- 
hered to very simple methods. " We do not be- 
lieve," he said, " in what is called enriching the 
curriculum. When there have accumulated such 
vast stores of misinformation, we do not think it 
wise to burden our pupils' minds by trying to 
get them to unlearn everything. Such smattering 
has little educational value. We limit ourselves 



POLITE UNLEARNING 29 

to seeing that a few things which make the peo- 
ple of one country obnoxious to the people of 
another shall be thoroughly unlearned. When 
we consider what soil and climate have done in 
developing our own splendid type of manhood, 
it is natural that we should think highly of our own 
national environment, but it is unfortunate that 
we should usually think so poorly of those whose 
environment has been different. Each nation 
4 holds a thought' of its neighbors, and these 
thoughts are seldom altogether flattering. This is 
evidently a case for the application of mind cure. 

" Even with nations so akin to each other as 
the British and the American, the thoughts that 
are held are not always pleasing, especially when 
they sometimes forget their company manners. 
The adjective 'American' is not usually found in 
conjunction with those heavenly twins, ■ Sweetness 
and Light.' Indeed, the suggestion is quite the 
opposite. Only when used in connection with 
dentists does it imply undoubted excellence. In 
the United States the word British is not used as 
a term of endearment. 

" A good while ago Emerson declared that the 
English had good-will toward America, but in 



30 POLITE UNLEARNING 

their ordinary conversation they forgot their phi- 
losophy and remembered their disparaging anec- 
dotes. Of course the difficulty lies partly in the 
nature of an anecdote. Those we tell about our 
best friends usually convey to a stranger the im- 
pression that they are half-witted. It would be 
possible to collect a vast number of anecdotes 
illustrative of the fact that most people will, under 
ordinary circumstances, act in a rational manner. 
The trouble with such anecdotes is that they are 
so hard to remember. 

" One is led to inquire as to the best means to 
promote international good-will. One of the most 
obvious methods is through the encouragement 
of travel. Railways and steamships, by annihilat- 
ing distance, may, it is said, annihilate the en- 
mities between nations. The more opportunities 
people have of seeing one another, the better 
friends they will be. This theory is such a credit 
to human nature that at first I accepted it with- 
out a question. 

" I looked at the growing passenger-lists of the 
transatlantic steamers and thought of the peaceful 
invasion of our American cousins. Here are mis- 
sionaries of good-will. No collections! Every 



POLITE UNLEARNING 31 

man his own Missionary Board, paying his bills 
and diffusing the gospel of kindliness. Think of 
these fresh, enthusiastic missionaries who are con- 
tinually seeing and being seen, appreciating and 
being appreciated. And think of the cordial feel- 
ing diffused through America by every English 
traveler who goes about viewing American insti- 
tutions and candidly telling the people what he 
thinks of them. I had thought of suggesting that 
the Palace of Peace at the Hague should be sur- 
mounted by an heroic statue of the travel-com- 
pelling Cook. 

" My enthusiasm for travel as a sufficient cor- 
rective of international misunderstandings was 
chilled by observations on its results. 

" A friend who for many years had spent his 
summers in Switzerland remarked that the Ger- 
mans are less popular than they were before their 
present era of prosperity. I asked the reason, and 
he answered, ■ We see more of them now.' I have 
known Germans who insisted that a visit to Eng- 
land did not cure Anglophobia, any more than 
the application of water would cure Hydropho- 
bia. It might even aggravate the symptoms. That 
going to see people may have different effects is 



32 POLITE UNLEARNING 

shown in our use of the words < visit ' and ■ visita- 
tion.' Whether a visit shall seem like a visitation 
depends a good deal on the visitor. 

" I greeted a Lancashire manufacturer on his 
return from the United States. 'How did you 
like it over there ? ' I asked. ' I did n't expect to 
like it,' he answered, ■ and I did n't like it as well 
as I expected. It was brag ! brag ! all the time, 
and when I found that I was beginning to brag 
too, I thought it was time for me to come 
home.' 

" He seemed grateful for his preservation as one 
who had providentially escaped the plague. A 
few months later, being in New York, I happened 
to mention his name to a gentleman to whom he 
had brought letters of introduction. It appeared 
that this gentleman had not recognized the admi- 
rable qualities which had made my Lancashire 
friend an ornament to his native city. He had, 
however, borne him no personal malice, but had 
set down all his less pleasing characteristics to his 
nationality. After narrating several incidents illus- 
trative of the general quality of pig-headedness, 
he added charitably, ■ But what could you expect 
of a Britisher ? ' 



POLITE UNLEARNING 33 

" Travel can hardly be relied upon as a suffi- 
cient salve for international irritations. There is 
sure to be a fly in this ointment. The fly, I take 
it, is apt to be imported. The trouble comes, not 
from something the traveler sees which he dis- 
likes, but from some prepossession which makes 
him dislike what he sees. He sets out with certain 
preconceived ideas which he uses alternately as a 
club with which to belabor the foreigners on their 
native heath, and as blinders to prevent himself 
from seeing anything new. As a consequence, 
his little journey in the world does not add to the 
sum total of the amenities. 

" An Englishman goes to New York with the 
settled conviction that it ought to be just like 
London. When he discovers that it is n't, trouble 
begins. He accumulates incontrovertible evidences 
of divergencies. It is too hot in summer and too 
cold in winter and too noisy all the time. The 
buildings are too high, and the lifts drop suddenly 
from under him, giving him a ' gone ' feeling that 
he does n't like. Above all there is a distressing 
dearth of afternoon tea. 

"With the best intentions in the world he 
points out these defects of a crude civilization. 



34 POLITE UNLEARNING 

He waxes didactic. These things, my brethren, 
ought not so to be. 

" And his American brethren do not like it. It 
is not because they really care a fig about their 
sky-scrapers, with their necessary attendant evils. 
It is because they had wished to show him some 
things they were really proud of and which he in 
his misery refuses to see. 

M The American in the old country makes him- 
self obnoxious in the same way. He starts out 
with the assumption that London is and of right 
ought to be a bigger Seattle. It has had plenty of 
time, and if it is not up-to-date it argues a mental 
defect on the part of its citizens. He is disap- 
pointed in what he sees. The belated people still 
go about on omnibuses and seem to like it. The 
telephone service is beneath contempt, and the 
ordinary business man does only one thing at a 
time. This is all wrong, and with the zeal of a 
missionary he urges the native islanders to ■ get 
busy.' He explains to them the defects in their 
education. On the slightest provocation he in- 
dulges in statistics of American bank clearances 
and grain shipments, and the increase in popula- 
tion since the last census. He is annoyed because 



POLITE UNLEARNING 35 

they refuse to be astonished at these things and 
reserve their surprise for his incidental revelations 
of the methods of municipal politics. He is 
thoroughly kind. He is careful to make them 
understand that he does not wish to offend against 
any of their inherited prejudices. 

" That attitude which Lowell described as ■ a 
certain condescension in foreigners' is not con- 
fined to any one nation. It seems to be the most 
natural thing in the world for the foreigner as 
foreigner. When a person leaves his home and 
becomes, for the time being, a foreigner, he is 
likely, unless he has had the benefit of a school 
like ours, to retain his home standards of judg- 
ment. He passes rather severe verdicts on what 
he sees, and imagines that he renders them agree- 
able by expressing them in the most conciliatory 
tones. Perhaps he even tries to keep his opinions 
to himself. He does n't say anything, but he does 
a lot of thinking. He would n't for the world 
have the people among whom he is moving know 
how inferior, in certain respects, he thinks them. 
Usually they are clever enough to find out for 
themselves. 

" You see the same thing among dogs. You 



36 POLITE UNLEARNING 

take your little dog for a walk in a strange part 
of the town. Before starting on your travels you 
have admonished him, and he is on his good be- 
havior. He trots along in the middle of the road, 
4 saying nothing to nobody.' To the obtuse hu- 
man observation he is a model of propriety ; but 
to the more acute canine sensibility there is some- 
thing in the glint of his eye or the crook of his 
tail that is most offensive. The sudden alterca- 
tions that seem to come like bolts out of the clear 
sky must have some reason. I am sure that the 
curs that leave the sweet security of their own 
dooryards to do battle do so because they have 
detected a certain condescension in this foreigner. 
Something in his bearing has emphasized the 
fact that he is not of their kind ; and that he is 
mighty glad of it." 

44 Your remarks," I said, interrupting the Prin- 
cipal, " about the way people carry their home- 
bred opinions about with them reminds me of 
a dear old lady I once knew in the Mississippi 
Valley. She went to London to attend the Queen's 
Jubilee. On her return we asked her to describe 
the pageant. It seemed that the Queen and all 
the imperial pomp made very little impression on 



POLITE UNLEARNING 37 

her mind, she had been so interested in herself. 
She told how, at considerable expense, she had se- 
cured a good seat. 

" ■ Then I looked down and saw a ragged little 
boy. I called him to come up with me, and I 
wrapped him in an American flag which I al- 
ways take with me. And there I sat all day, 
" The Genius of America protecting the British 
Poor. 5 " It was a beautiful symbolic act, but I 
fear it may have been misinterpreted." 

" I see you get the point," said the Principal. 
u Now we may come back to the School of Polite 
Unlearning. Its aim is to rid the foreigner in as 
short a time as possible of the preconceived no- 
tions of his own superiority. These notions if left 
unchecked would have prevented his getting any 
good of his travels, as well as making him more 
or less of a nuisance to the people among whom 
he happened to be. We intend to enlarge our 
institution gradually until we have branches in 
all the great capitals. We will teach Frenchmen 
that their ideas of Germany are all wrong, and 
eventually we may solve the Eastern question by 
convincing the Russians, Bulgarians, Macedo- 
nians, Servians, Turks, and others, that they do 



3 8 POLITE UNLEARNING 

not really know so much to each other's discredit 
as they have for centuries been led to suppose. 

" At the present we are confining our atten- 
tion to improving the relations between the Brit- 
ish and the Americans. That two nations with a 
common language and literature should heartily 
like each other seems eminently desirable. Do we 
not belong to the same reading club ? But what 
avail these literary communings so long as thou- 
sands of persons are annually let loose in the 
territories of each nation disseminating misun- 
derstandings of the most irritating character ? 

" The customs regulations might do something. 
The United States has already adopted the pol- 
icy of forbidding the importation on regular lines 
of steamships of certain ideas. On entering an 
American port the passenger is asked whether he 
has in his possession any anarchistic opinions. 
If he makes the declaration in due form, he is 
immediately deported. This has had an excellent 
effect in keeping out anarchists whose veracity is 
above the normal ; though for those of the baser 
sort there is a great opportunity for smuggling. 

" In like manner we might have the customs 
officers anticipate the newspaper reporters, and 



POLITE UNLEARNING 39 

ask each foreigner before landing what he thinks 
of the country. If he reveals a set of opinions that 
are not likely to be modified by further experi- 
ence, he might be sent back at the expense of the 
steamship company. All this however is of purely 
academic interest. For the present, we must trust 
to voluntary action. If the visitor is wise he will 
welcome any aid in getting rid of the opinions 
which stand in the way of his pleasure and profit. 
Our school attempts to minister to this need. 
Here, for example, is a middle-aged Englishman 
who is contemplating a visit to America. He has 
a number of ideas in regard to what he calls ■ the 
States,' and he is much attached to those ideas. 
He has not had occasion clearly to differentiate 
4 the States ' from ■ the colonies ' ; they are all 
alike a long way off He thinks of the States as 
British colonies that got themselves detached a 
long time ago from the apron-strings of the mother 
country. Since then they have been going to the 
dogs more or less without knowing it. They 
have fallen into the hands of trusts and dissenters. 
They have taken to over-educating the lower 
classes and under-educating the upper classes, till 
you can't tell which is which. In their use of the 



40 POLITE UNLEARNING 

English language liberty has degenerated into 
license, as it always does where you have no lei- 
sure class that has time to speak correctly. Their 
pronunciation is utterly barbarous, and now they 
are endeavoring to conceal their offenses by get- 
ting us to spell the language as they pronounce 
it. They are always talking about the dollar, which 
is a very different thing from our silent respect for 
shillings and pence. Their children are intoler- 
able, owing to their precocious imitation of the 
manners of their elders. While boastful of their 
liberty they are curiously submissive to tyranny, 
and if their newspapers are to be believed, they 
universally cower in the presence of a janitor. In 
their public conveyances they hang to straps 
and gasp for air in a manner pitiable to behold. 
All these tortures they endure with stoical forti- 
tude, which they have learned through their long 
intercourse with the Red Indians. 

" He is aware that in the States he will hear a 
deal of ' tall talk ' ; this he is prepared to dis- 
count. A very safe rule to observe is not to be- 
lieve anything that sounds large. 

" The American business men, he understands, 
have no interests whatever except in money-get- 



POLITE UNLEARNING 41 

ting. " They are prodigiously active, but their ac- 
tivity is providentially limited by dyspepsia and 
nervous prostration. He is inclined to attribute 
the physical break-down of the race to the uni- 
versal consumption of Chicago tinned meats. 

"On the whole, however, he has a friendly 
feeling toward the people of the States. They are 
doing as well as could be expected of such peo- 
ple, under the circumstances. They have already, 
in their immature civilization, produced some 
men whose names are household words — there 
was Artemus Ward and Fenimore Cooper and 
Mark Twain and Buffalo Bill. This proves that, 
after all, blood is thicker than water. 

" He starts on his travels very much as the 
elder brother in the parable might have done had 
he thought to pay a visit to the prodigal in the 
far country. After all, the lad came of good stock, 
even though he did show poor judgment in go- 
ing so far off. He had heard a good deal about 
his adventures, though he didn't believe half 
of it. It might be interesting to run over and see 
for himself whether the report about those husks 
had not been exaggerated. 

"Now is it safe to allow such a person to go 



42 POLITE UNLEARNING 

about in a friendly country, unattended? 'One 
sinner destroyeth much good/ and one such trav- 
eler destroyeth much international good feeling. 
After three months he will have returned having 
every one of his opinions confirmed by a dozen 
instances. And he will have left behind him a 
score or more Americans confirmed in their opin- 
ion as to what a typical Britisher is like. 

" How much better for him to enter our school 
before engaging his passage westward. Here, sur- 
rounded by all the comforts of home, he could 
begin the painful but necessary process of un- 
learning. Each day we would examine him and 
find out his fixed opinion and flatly contradict it. 
He would lose his temper, and become grumpy 
and sarcastic, and threaten to write to the news- 
paper. But this would hurt nobody's feelings, for 
all the teachers and attendants in the institution 
are immune. 

" Our object is a simple one : to rid him of the 
opinion that there is one right way of doing things, 
and that all other ways are wrong. We want to 
teach him to be content to say simply that the 
other ways are different. When he has learned 
rather to like the differences, and to be interested 



POLITE UNLEARNING 43 

in finding out why they are as they are, we give 
him a diploma. 

"A great deal of our time is spent over the bare 
rudiments. You may have noticed as you came 
in, in the little class-room to the left, a gentleman 
unwillingly engaged in studying a large wall-map 
of Oklahoma. He is an Oxford man who makes 
his living writing for the reviews. He lately ex- 
pressed the intention of visiting America. His 
friends felt that he was not in a fit state, and ad- 
vised him to take a short course in our school 
simply as a precautionary measure. You have no 
idea how hard it is for him to unlearn, he had 
learned everything so thoroughly. We have had 
to put him in a class by himself in elementary 
geography. We found that he had a most inade- 
quate idea of the extent of the American Union, 
and had always looked upon the States as corre- 
sponding to the English counties. This of itself 
would have been no detriment to him if his geo- 
graphical ideas had been held only as a part of 
the equipment of a modest ignorance. It would 
have endeared him to his American friends, who 
would have been only too happy to set him 
right. But unfortunately he is not the kind of 



44 POLITE UNLEARNING 

man who can be set right with impunity. When 
any one would tell him the distance from New 
York to San Francisco, it would not make the 
slightest impression on his mind. He would set 
it down as a piece of American brag. We have 
found that the best way is to give him set tasks. 
We have dissected maps of Europe and America 
drawn to the same scale, and we make him put 
the map of Great Britain into the map of Texas 
and calculate the marginal area. Then we have 
memory work, having him from time to time re- 
peat the length of the Missouri-Mississippi, and 
the number of vessels passing every year through 
the Detroit River. We set before him the latest 
railway map of the United States and ask him to 
tell at sight which railways belong to which big 
syndicate, and since when ? When he asks what 
difference it makes, we rebuke his impertinence, 
and keep him after school. 

u We give him daily themes to write. For ex- 
ample we present this text from Sam Slick : 
4 They are strange folks, them English. On par- 
ticulars they know more than any people ; but 
on generals they are as ignorant as owls. The 
way they don't know some things is beautiful/ 



POLITE UNLEARNING 45 

44 What national characteristics did Mr. Sam- 
uel Slick of Slickville, Connecticut, have in mind 
when he made these animadversions ? Is the dis- 
like for general ideas really necessary to the sta- 
bility of the British Constitution % Is Mr. Slick's 
criticism sufficiently answered by pointing out the 
fact that it is couched in language that seriously 
conflicts with the accepted rules of English gram- 
mar ? 

" On another occasion I gave him these lines 
from one of our own poets : — 

The House of Peers throughout the war 
Did nothing in particular, 
And did it very well. 

4 Compare this admirable record of the finished 
work of our Upper House with the proceedings of 
a session of the Missouri Legislature, which did a 
lot of highly important and necessary work, and 
did it all very badly. Give your opinion as to the 
comparative value of the two legislative bodies. 
Indicate on the margin whether you consider a 
person who holds the opposite opinion to be be- 
neath your contempt, or just worthy of it ? ' 

" Yesterday I gave him an item from the 
sporting columns of a San Francisco newspaper. 



46 POLITE UNLEARNING 

After describing the strenuous physical exercises 
of a distinguished pugilist, the writer adds : 
'O'Brien is diligently using his leisure time in 
study. It is his intention when retiring from the 
ring to devote himself exclusively to literary pur- 
suits. To this end he has engaged a tutor and 
under his direction is reading Gibbon's " Decline 
and Fall of the Roman Empire," Dante, and Ho- 
mer/ 

" ' Use this paragraph as a text for a sarcastic 
article on the absurdities of popular education 
and the chaotic condition of a society in which 
anybody feels competent to study anything he 
has a mind to. After having done this to your own 
satisfaction look at the subject from another point 
of view. Granted that you, with your excellent 
classical education, are more capable of appre- 
ciating Homer, ask which one would Homer be 
more likely to appreciate, you or O'Brien ? ' 

" We are now making use of the phonograph, 
which repeats for him choice extracts from Amer- 
ican newspapers and magazines devoted to mak- 
ing the world familiar with the growth of the 
country. This familiarizes him, through the ear, 
with certain uncongenial habits of thought." 



POLITE UNLEARNING 47 

The Principal led me for a moment into the 
entry, and looking through the door we saw the 
Oxford man in a dejected attitude listening to the 
phonograph, which was monotonously informing 
him of the glories of Chicago and the exact floor- 
space of Marshall Field's store, 

" He will have to hear these things sometime," 
said the Principal, on returning to his own room, 
44 and he might as well do so now. I fear, how- 
ever, I may have been too severe in the training, 
and that he may be going stale. He told me this 
morning that perhaps he might give up his Amer- 
ican trip and take a little run up to Bibury instead. 

44 The real difficulties are always those that lie 
in the background of the mind and therefore are 
hard to get at. The traveler insists on putting 
everything into the same categories he uses at 
home, and sometimes they won't fit. English- 
men, for example, have got used to dividing 
themselves into three distinct classes ; and when 
they come to a community where these divisions 
are not obvious they regard it with suspicion, as 
they would an egg in which the distinction be- 
tween the white and the yellow is not as clearly 
marked as in the days of its first innocency. 



48 POLITE UNLEARNING 

"I have been reading the book of a clever 
writer who discourses on American characteristics. 
He found in America no recognized upper class 
and no plainly marked lower class, and so he 
drew the conclusion that all Americans belong to 
the middle class. Then he attributed to them all 
the characteristics which middle-class Englishmen 
of a literary turn of mind are always attributing 
to their own class. But this is fallacious. In my 
youth we used to amuse ourselves by beheading 
words. We would ruthlessly behead a word and 
then curtail it. But when the middle letters were 
relieved of their terminal incumbrances and set 
up as an independent word, that word had a 
meaning of its own. My own opinion is that we 
middle-class Englishmen are pretty fine fellows, 
and that we are in most respects superior to our 
betters ; but if we had n't one class to look up 
to and another to look down on, I doubt whether 
we should feel middle-class at all. We should 
feel, as do our American brethren, that we are 
the whole show. 

" A most difficult matter is to bring my pupils 
to a sympathetic appreciation of American opti- 
mism. It goes against all their preconceived no- 



POLITE UNLEARNING 49 

tions of the fitness of things. The airy way in 
which an American will mention the most dis- 
tressing present moral conditions and assure you 
that everything is as bad as it can be, and is com- 
ing out all right, irritates them. It seems to argue 
a state of ethical inconsequence. ■ You can't pin 
these fellows down to hard facts,' a pupil com- 
plained to me, ' the pin won't hold.' 

"' That's just it,' I answered, 'the facts these 
people are dealing with are not hard, they are 
fluid. In the old world social facts are hard, they 
have been solidified by the pressure of popula- 
tion exerted for generations. In the vast spaces of 
America this pressure has as yet been little felt. 
If you don't like the facts that are presented to 
you, you need not take the disappointment seri- 
ously, for you are promised a new set of facts 
while you wait. And the remarkable thing is that 
about half the time the promise is fulfilled. The 
facts are flowing. You can't nail them ; the best 
thing you can do is to float on them. The Amer- 
ican is not a worshiper of things as they are, his 
curiosity is aroused by the things that are going 
to be.' 

"We try to make our students, through a 



5 o POLITE UNLEARNING 

variety of illustrations of rapid change, and that 
mostly in the right direction, see that there is 
some justification for the American expectation 
that when things are pretty bad they are about to 
be better. It is not altogether to his discredit that 
even his moral indignation at obvious abuses 
takes a characteristically cheerful and even self- 
congratulatory tone. 'Things are looking up 
morally,' he says, 6 when I can get so righteously 
indignant as all this.' 

" I endeavor to get my pupils to unlearn their 
natural repugnance to the American quality of 
self-assertiveness. Sometimes I try the kinder- 
garten method. Most of them are interested in 
pop-corn, which they have heard is the chief di- 
version of rural America. To shake a corn-popper 
over a glowing bed of coals is a new experience. 
When the miniature bombardment is at its height 
I begin to moralize. 

" • That is what you will see over in America, 
and I hope you will like it. Think of the states 
in the Mississippi Valley as a huge corn-popper. 
Into the popper are poured millions of grains of 
ordinary humanity. They don't take very much 
room, for they have grown close together. They 



POLITE UNLEARNING 51 

are not much to look at. They are shaken till 
they are pretty evenly distributed and each one 
feels the genial warmth of a general prosperity. 
Then they begin to expand, not in a quiet fashion 
but in a series of small explosions, each individual 
popping out of his shell and surprised that he 
takes up so much room in the world. He very 
naturally thinks he 's the biggest thing out. 

" ■ If you are a cross-grained foreigner you may 
look at the process with critical disfavor. You 
may say that there is n't any more substance in it 
than there was before and that they ought to 
have remained in the original envelope which 
Providence had provided for them. You may 
look upon it as highly dangerous, and say that if 
they keep on popping like that they will burst 
the popper. Or you may end the conversation by 
remarking that, for your own part, you don't like 
pop-corn, anyway. But if you are open to con- 
viction we hope to bring you to a better frame of 
mind.'" 

" That is all very interesting," I said, " to get 
your pupils to unlearn their distaste for American 
self-assertiveness. I hope you will go farther and 
get them to unlearn the notion that all Americans 



52 POLITE UNLEARNING 

are self-assertive. I am sure that many of my 
countrymen possess the pearl of humility." 

" Yes," said the Principal, " I have no doubt of 
it. By the way, there is a singular thing about 
pearls, which I believe has never been explained. 
It is said that the best way to preserve their lustre 
is to wear them occasionally." 

I learned that the American students had 
not begun to drift in, though my arrival had 
strengthened the hope that such accidents might 
happen. Of course the tourist who had only a 
few days to spend in the country could hardly 
be expected to give up part of his holidays for 
the sake of getting rid of a few long-cherished 
notions which had no value except to their owner. 
But the needs of those who were anticipating a 
more prolonged stay could be provided for. 

"I anticipate great pleasure," said the Princi- 
pal, " from my American pupils, when once they 
find their way here, for I am told that they un- 
learn easily. They will also have the great ad- 
vantage of being removed from their customary 
environment, so that their erroneous opinions 
may be more readily eradicated. 



POLITE UNLEARNING 53 

" A matter to which we shall give some atten- 
tion is the American's notion that the stay-at- 
home Englishman's ignorance of things American 
arises from superciliousness. When his host, in 
order to put him at his ease, makes a few vague 
remarks about the Great Republic and then lets 
the subject drop, it seems to indicate an affecta- 
tion of haughty indifference. We shall endeavor 
to correct this impression and to show that the 
ignorance is not affected but is quite real. When 
the pupil feels that he has a grievance because he 
has been asked whether Philadelphia is on the 
right or left bank of the Mississippi River, we 
shall apply a counter-irritant. 

" 'Brazil,' we shall say, ■ is a great and glorious 
country. Indicate in a pleasant conversational 
way what you know about it, avoiding the ap- 
pearance of having looked it up, for the occasion, 
in the Encyclopedia. After you have made a 
few remarks about Rio, connected in your mind 
with coffee and yellow fever, lead the conversa- 
tion in a sprightly fashion to some of the other 
great cities. In alluding to some of the states of 
Brazil, show that you greatly admire them, and 
tactfully conceal the fact that you are not very 



54 POLITE UNLEARNING 

clear in your mind as to where they are. In men- 
tioning the Amazon indicate that you have some 
ideas about it besides those derived in your child- 
hood from Mayne Reid's " Afloat in the Forest." 
When the conversation turns upon the great 
statesmen and men of letters of Brazil, take your 
part with sympathetic intelligence. When, provi- 
dentially, the subject is changed, do not appear to 
be too much relieved.' 

"After a few such exercises the pupil will be 
introduced to an Englishman who knows as much 
about the United States as he does about South 
America. A fellow feeling will make them won- 
drous kind. 

" I shall prepare a short course of lectures on 
English Reserve for the benefit of pupils from 
the great West who complain because we do not 
open our hearts to strangers before we have learned 
their names. It seems to them undemocratic that 
cordiality of manner should be dependent on the 
mere accident of being acquainted. I suppose 
that they are right, and that if we were more 
large-minded we should consider nothing human 
as foreign to us. But we are not so happily con- 
stituted. Something more than mere humanity is 



POLITE UNLEARNING 55 

needed to start the genial currents of our nature. 
Our pump must be 'primed' with something in 
the way of an introduction. 

"In the Far West, I understand, you have a 
system of agriculture known as ■ dry-farming.' 
The plan is to keep the surface pulverized so that 
the moisture stored beneath may be preserved for 
the feeding roots. We English have for gen- 
erations cultivated our friendships by a similar 
method. The non-conducting surface of our man- 
ner keeps the deeper feelings from evaporating. 
There is, we think, a good deal to be said in be- 
half of this system of dry-farming. 

"A much more delicate subject for unlearn- 
ing is the American's curious notion about the 
Englishman's attitude toward humor. Ever since 
Artemus Ward amused the citizens of London 
by giving notice that he would call upon them 
at their residences in order to explain his jokes, 
his countrymen have assumed a patronizing air. 
When an American ventures on a pleasantry, he 
tells the story simply, as to a little child ; he 
has heard that an Englishman finds difficulties 
in such matters. He somewhat officiously offers 
' first aid.' All this is strange when one considers 



56 POLITE UNLEARNING 

how much our transatlantic brethren have been 
indebted to the glorious company of English 
humorists, from Chaucer down. One is reminded 
of George Eliot's ' Legend of Jubal.' Jubal, ■ the 
father of all such as handle the organ and pipe ' 
and other instruments of music, returned from a 
long journey to find the people whom he had 
blessed enjoying a musical festival. He was not 
recognized by the new generation, and when he 
attempted to join in the jubilation the musicians 
turned upon him and ' beat him with their flutes.' " 

" I think we appreciate our literary indebted- 
ness," I interrupted, "though our gratitude does 
not always take the form of a lively anticipation 
of favors to come. It seems to be the old story 
of forgetting our philosophy and remembering 
only our anecdotes. Now, I can tell you an an- 
ecdote which will illustrate what we mean." 

"It is not necessary," said the Principal; "we 
have made a large collection of them, and they 
are all essentially the same. The American tells 
a story which is received by his respectable 
British friend with solemn attention worthy of 
a better cause. Then, when the legal time for 
laughter has expired according to the statutes of 



POLITE UNLEARNING 57 

limitation, he acknowledges his liability and pays 
his debt of merriment, with deferred interest. 
The American argues that his mental processes, 
though sure, are somewhat slow. 

"But if we had Courts of Humor as in the 
days of chivalry they had Courts of Love, I 
should like to present these cases for adjudication. 
I should argue that the anecdotes do not prove 
a deficiency in humor so much as a higher 
standard of rectitude. The Englishman is not 
less quick than the American to see a point, but 
when he does not see it he is less likely to con- 
ceal the fact. If he suspects that there is a poor 
little joke concealed somewhere, he does not find 
it in his heart to allow it to perish of neglect, but 
returns to it as a friendly visitor, to see what he 
can do for it." 

" I shall endeavor," said the Principal, " to get 
them, if not to unlearn, at least to moderate the 
1 Old Home' idea Every American, no matter 
where his family originated, likes to think of 
England as the Old Home. It satisfies his his- 
toric sense and gives him the feeling that he is 
revisiting the green graves of his sires. 



58 POLITE UNLEARNING 

"Once arrived at the Old Home he goes 
about in search of the quaint and venerable. His 
head is chock-full of more or less vague histori- 
cal and literary allusions which he is anxious to 
attach to their proper localities. He is on the 
lookout for the people he has read about. He 
would not be surprised to meet FalstafF or Mr. 
Pickwick when he turns the corner. I was my- 
self taken for Mr. Pickwick once, and I didn't 
like it. 

" In the mean time the Twentieth-Century Eng- 
land, with its rapidly growing cities, its shifting 
population, its radical democracy, its socialistic 
experiments, its model tenements, its new uni- 
versities, its ferment of fresh thought, escapes his 
notice. 

" ' Fine country this,' he says, ■ to rest in: beau- 
tiful ruins, well-kept lawns, good old customs 
unchanged for a thousand years. Everything is 
kept up just as it used to be. I like to see the 
conservative ways; makes you realize how your 
forefathers felt. I tell you it touches a soft spot 
in your heart to come back to the Old Home.' 

" To the alert, public-spirited, intensely mod- 
ern Englishman who is eager to show him the 



POLITE UNLEARNING 59 

latest thing in municipal housekeeping, this is 
disconcerting." 

"Yes," I said, "I think I understand. If I 
were a prosperous planter away down on the 
Suwanee River, and were anxious to show my 
visitor the brand-new mansion I had built with 
the proceeds of my last year's cotton crop, I 
should object to his striking a sentimental atti- 
tude and warbling the ditty about the 'old folks 
at home.' I should especially object if he mis- 
took me for one of the old folks." 

" That is the trouble," said the Principal, "with 
living in a place that has become a household 
word. The traveling public seems like a many- 
headed monster with only one idea. When the 
idea is a trivial one and keeps popping up con- 
tinually, it becomes tiresome. There for instance 
is Banbury, a thriving market town. The present 
inhabitants are eminently progressive, and the 
town bears all the evidences of prosperity. But 
when the train draws up in the summer, one may 
hear girlish American voices exclaiming, ■ How 
fascinating! Isn't it too cunning for anything! 
Ride a cock-horse.' And they look out upon the 
Banbury people as if they belonged to an imme- 
morial nursery. 



60 POLITE UNLEARNING 

" The Americans ignore the political divisions 
of the country, and acknowledge only the divi- 
sions into the Scott country, the Burns country, 
the Wordsworth country, the Shakespeare coun- 
try, the Dickens country, and the Lorna Doone 
country. We sometimes wonder where they think 
we come in." 

" Still," I said, " we must remember that though 
it may be tiresome to the inhabitants to have a 
few associations recurring continually, a great 
part of the pleasure of travel consists in compar- 
ing our previous impressions with what we see. 
There was that most delightful of English way- 
farers, George Borrow ; he was doing that all the 
time. 

" ' On arriving at Chester,' he says, ' at which 
place we intended to spend two or three days, 
we put up at an old-fashioned inn in Northgate 
Street to which we had been recommended. My 
wife and daughter ordered tea and its accom- 
paniments; and I ordered ale and that which 
should always accompany it, cheese. " The ale I 
shall find bad," said I ; " Chester ale had a bad 
reputation since the time of old Sion Tudor, who 
made a first-rate englyn about it, but I shall have 



POLITE UNLEARNING 61 

a treat in the cheese; Cheshire cheese has always 
been reckoned excellent." ' 

" To his great delight he found the ale as bad 
as it was in the days of Sion Tudor, and there- 
fore he hilariously threw it out of the window. 
Then tasting the cheese, he found the cheese bad 
also, and promptly threw that after the ale. 
1 Well,' he said, * if I have been deceived in the 
cheese, at any rate I have not been deceived in 
the ale, which I expected to find execrable. 
Patience ! I shall not fall into a passion, more 
especially as there are things I can fall back 
upon. Wife ! I will trouble you for a cup of 
tea. Henrietta! have the kindness to cut me a 
slice of bread and butter.' 

" Now it is evident that Borrow had two dis- 
tinct pleasures in his visit to Chester. The ale 
w r as as bad as from his previous reading of the 
Welsh bards he had been led to suppose, and 
the cheese was worse. The pleasure in each case 
came from the fact that his experience had re- 
acted upon his previous ideas. After all, this is a 
harmless sort of pleasure." 

" Yes," said the Principal, " in a bluff, whole- 
souled Briton like Borrow, there could be no 



62 POLITE UNLEARNING 

harm in throwing the ale and cheese around, just 
for the sake of auld lang syne; but it is different 
with a vulgar rich Am — Pardon me, I am fall- 
ing into the bad habits of my pupils." 

" I take no offense," I said ; " you know I am 
not rich." 

" We shall," he said, " deal tenderly with the 
literary and historical treasures which our pupils 
bring with them, but we shall endeavor to teach 
them to use their excellent gifts in such a way that 
the Past may not altogether obscure the Present." 

" Another idea," said the Principal, " is that of 
4 the tight little island/ It is a term that the Brit- 
ish themselves delight in; but it should be re- 
membered that diminutives, while very endearing 
when used in the family circle, are less pleasing 
when taken up by strangers. The American ex- 
pects to find the British quite insular, and so they 
are, — ' of or pertaining to an island, surrounded 
by water, opposed to continental.' The real ques- 
tion is, what effect has being surrounded by 
water upon the mind? Is water, especially when 
it is salt, a conductor or non-conductor of cosmo- 
politan sympathies? The dictionary takes the 



POLITE UNLEARNING 63 

latter view and goes on to the slurring second- 
ary definition, 'characteristic of the inhabitants 
of islands, hence, narrow, contracted/ 

" Why 'hence, narrow, contracted ' ? It would 
seem as if the dictionary-man had been consort- 
ing with land-lubbers and had taken their point 
of view. One would suppose from his reasoning 
that the sea cut one off from communication with 
the rest of the world, while prairies and moun- 
tains were the true highways of nations. This is 
not the doctrine of the Blue-water school. It is 
based on the recognition of the broadening effect 
of an insular position. There is no place so easy 
to get at or to get away from as an island. It 
makes us next-door neighbors to the ends of the 
earth, especially when we 've got the ships, we 've 
got the men, we 've got the money too. It is 
your dweller in a section of a continent who is 
shut in, 'hence, narrow, contracted.' Your islander 
knows no such narrow bounds as he sings his 
victorious ' Song of the Seven Seas.' If this be 
insularity make the most of it ! " 

At this moment the door-bell rang, and a shy 
individual appeared whom I took to be the first 
American student. 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 



SOME years have passed since Sir John Lub- 
bock offered assistance to the bewildered 
reader by sifting the world's literature and select- 
ing the Best Books. Since then many lists of the 
Best Books, in tens and multiples of ten, have 
been presented to the public. Enterprising pub- 
lishers have put forth sets sold by subscription 
and warranted to be ornaments to any library. 

I am not in a position to know whether the 
Best Books when organized into a battalion are 
more resorted to than before. I suspect that, like 
a crack regiment, they are much admired by 
the commonalty, and not subjected to very hard 
service. 

But admirable as is the effort to mark the best, 
it is not a sufficient method of charting the vast 
sea of literature. The lighthouse is not placed in 
the middle of the channel, but on the dangerous 
reef. The mournful bell-buoy tells the mariner 
where not to go. For purposes of instruction in 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 65 

literature, the reefs and shoals should be properly- 
marked. It seems strange that those who are in- 
terested in the study of literary style have not 
given more attention to the work of compiling 
lists of the Hundred Worst Books. 

Here is a fascinating field for difference of 
opinion ; and the debates can be carried on with- 
out acrimony. There is something unseemly in 
the controversies over the comparative merits of 
Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw, especially when, 
for chronological reasons, Bernard Shaw must 
have the last word. It is different when two de- 
servedly obscure writers contend amiably for the 
lowest seat. No ill feeling can be provoked when 
each bows to the other and says, " After you." 

The question, what constitutes bad writing, 
has been complicated by the fact that teachers of 
English have so largely confined their attention 
to good, or at least to mediocre, writers. When, 
therefore, they have had occasion to use horrible 
examples, they have generally been content to 
point out the occasional slips which they discover 
in the better sort of books; unless, indeed, they 
are hard-hearted enough to use Freshman exami- 
nation papers as clinical material. 



66 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

In this way they put undue emphasis on minor 
faults, while not doing justice to those which are 
fundamental. For reproof and instruction there is 
nothing better than the thorough analysis of a 
book which has no redeeming qualities to distract 
from its main fault. It must be one of unim- 
aginativeness all compact. There should be a 
careful anatomy of its melancholy. What is the 
secret of total lack of charm ? How is it that 
words can be made not only to conceal thought, 
but also to stifle all natural curiosity concerning 
the thought that might be concealed? In what 
fields were the poppies grown from which this 
opiate was distilled ? 

It is only in the first-hand study of consistently 
bad writing that we outgrow the schoolboy point 
of view : that bad writing consists in breaking the 
rules, and good writing in obeying them. At first 
sight, the rules of rhetoric seem as adamantine as 
the moral law. The commandments against bar- 
barisms and improprieties are uttered with a stern 
menace. Such a natural locution as a split infini- 
tive evokes the thunders of the law. The young 
writer grows timid, seeing that he is liable to give 
offense where none was intended. By purifying 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 67 

his style of all its natural qualities, he seeks 
through self-abnegation to follow the counsels of 
perfection and attain to " clearness, elegance, and 
force." 

At last he discovers, with a sense of injustice, 
that the penalties are visited only on those who, in 
good faith, are trying, though unsuccessfully, to 
obey the laws. All is forgiven one who trans- 
gresses willfully and deliberately. 

" I do not care to be clear," cries the new favor- 
ite ; " you will notice what pains I take to be ob- 
scure. As for elegance, I despise it." 

"Come to my arms, child of genius!" cries the 
delighted critic. "Who cares for clearness and 
elegance in one who is strong enough to succeed 
without them ? " 

The painstaking literary workman has a sense of 
inj ustice when he observes that virtue is not re ward ed 
and that disobedience is praised. Elsewhere the 
good person is one who does what he is told to do 
and who performs the work that is expected of 
him. In literature, all this goes for nothing when 
measured against a bit of originality. Now, origi- 
nality consists in not doing what is expected. 
When all eyes are fixed upon the target the trick 



68 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

is to hit something else. The thoroughly bad 
writer is one who in three hundred and fifty pages 
tells you exactly what you expected, in precisely 
the way you expected him to tell it. The business- 
like fidelity with which his plan is carried out 
renders it unnecessary for you to inspect the work. 
You feel that you can trust the author absolutely. 
A glance at the table of contents is sufficient ; you 
know that it will be carried out. You can ac- 
knowledge your indebtedness in the labor-saving 
formula of the polite tradesman, " Thanking you 
in advance for your favor." 

It is not my purpose to furnish a list of the 
Worst Books. I do not think it would be within 
the power of any one to make a selection that 
would be universally accepted. The compilers of 
the lists of Best Books have the advantage that 
they are by well-known authors and have had 
the judgment of successive generations. One does 
not need to have a really comprehensive know- 
ledge of literature to express a preference for the 
historic Milton over the inglorious Miltons, who 
might have written as well, but who unfortunately 
did n't. 

It is more difficult to distinguish the worst 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 69 

books. Like all the lower organisms, poor books 
multiply prodigiously, though the total number 
is kept down by a corresponding mortality. Here, 
as elsewhere, " the destruction of the poor is their 
poverty." The worst books sink speedily into the 
depths of oblivion. It is in these black waters 
that we must dredge for our specimens. 

We must expect to take fisherman's luck. It 
is as hard for some things to be forgotten as it is 
for others to be remembered. There, for example, 
was that sturdy Elizabethan, John Marston, who 
had the singular taste to dedicate his poems to 
Everlasting Oblivion. He says: — 

Let others pray 
Forever their fair poems flourish may, 
But as for me, hungry Oblivion 
Devour me quick, accept my orison, 
My earnest prayers which do importune thee 
To veil both me and my rude poesy. 

Instead of which, a new edition of the complete 
works of Marston has been issued within a few 
years. 

It is evident that no two lists of the Hundred 
Worst Books can be alike. There can be no 
consensus of the competent in regard to that 



7 o THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

which the competent usually shun. It is not 
necessary that there should be elaborate tests. All 
that can reasonably be expected is that a reader, 
remembering his least happy hours, should indi- 
cate the books which on the whole seemed pre- 
eminent in the quality of unreadableness. 

It should be remembered that the habit of 
making collections of books on the ground of 
their worthlessness is not common, and the col- 
lector meets many discouragements from those 
who do not appreciate his point of view. I had 
an experience of this kind in Oxford. I had noted 
the absence in the English newspapers of those 
colored supplements which lend distinction to our 
Sunday newspapers, and which throw such a lurid 
light upon our boasted sense of humor. 

I wondered as to what provision was made for 
the literary proletariat of Great Britain. A slight 
investigation at the news-stands revealed the fact 
that the same pabulum was furnished to the pub- 
lic, only on a somewhat different plan. In Great 
Britain it is served a la carte instead of, as with us, 
table d'hote. There are a host of little journals, of 
which " Ally Sloper's " seemed the most popular, 
which contain the matter which is thrust upon us 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 71 

in the huge supplements. It occurred to me that 
it might be pleasant to make a selection of these 
papers of the " Ally Sloper " variety, and com- 
pare them with our more pretentious productions 
in the same line. An analysis of this literature, 
which was evidently devoured in Oxford in large 
quantities, might serve as the basis of an essay to 
be entitled " Under the Shadow of the Bodleian." 

I had made a selection, and was about to com- 
plete the purchase, when the keeper of the news- 
stand handed me the " Hibbert Journal of The- 
ology," saying, with a firmness of conviction that 
overpowered my lighter desires, " This, sir, must 
be what you are looking for." 

Though the systematic study of literary failures 
may be less attractive to some minds than the con- 
templation of successful efforts, there can be no 
question as to its usefulness. It stands in the 
same relation to formal rhetoric that pathology 
does to physiology. Certainly, a sound know- 
ledge of the pathology of composition must be 
advantageous to one venturing upon so danger- 
ous an occupation. 

In compiling a list of the Hundred Worst 
Books one should carefully consider the necessary 



72 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

limitations of the inquiry. In the first place, it 
should be remembered that the word worst is 
used, not in the moral, but in the strictly literary 
sense. The candidate for a place in the list must 
be bad, not as a man may be bad, but as a book 
may be bad. Now, the chief end of a book is to 
be read, and the lowest depth into which it can 
fall is to be unreadable. We must subordinate all 
other considerations to the effort to ascertain how 
it stands in this respect. Our judgment must be 
upon the degree of unreadableness. Is the book 
one which we should not read if we had any- 
thing better at hand, or is it of such a character 
that in a farm-house on a rainy afternoon it would 
not serve as a temporary alleviation of our disap- 
pointment at not finding a last year's Almanac ? 

In making tests, we must eliminate all preju- 
dice. A book that awakens prejudice can have 
no place in the list of the Hundred Worst. A 
book that belongs there awakens nothing. If it 
makes you angry or scornful — it has done some- 
thing to you. This is evidence of a certain degree 
of power. The test of really poor writing is that 
it produces no mental reactions. 

Were there a popular contest, I suppose some 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 73 

one might propose the once well-known works 
of the Sweet Singer of Michigan. This would 
indicate that the essentials of poor literature are 
not understood. I have read every poem o: 
Sweet Singer with delighted surprise. The aber- 
rations from ordinary usage gave a certain unfor- 
gettable quality to the work. On the other hand, 
I have read poems irreproachable in rhyme tf 
rhythm, and when I had finished I not only didn't 
know what they were about, — which was 1 
small matter, — but, what was more important, I 
did n't care. 

In order to preserve the scientific character of 
the investigations, it would be necessary to rule 
out works by living authors, even though by so 
doing we exclude much interesting material. 

By this exclusion we avoid the question 
whether literature is declining in quality, as it in- 
creases in quantity. The fact that there are vast 
numbers of poor books issuing from the press 
does not prove that there is any literary deca- 
dence. We should remember the way in which 
Junius, in one of his letters to the Duke of Graf 
ton, denied that he had charged his Lordship v. 
being a degenerate. * fc The character of the ances- 



-j. THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

tors of some men has made it possible for them 
to be vicious in the extreme without being de- 
geneIate. ,, The testimony of contemporaries in 
such a matter is notoriously unreliable. Reai 
example, "The Tears of the Muses " by Edmund 
Spenser. Spenser would have us believe that the 
period in which he lived had reached the low- 
water mark o:' English genius. Each muse comes 
forward bathed in tears to lament the dismal 
heaviness of the times. 

Clio reports that in her line there is " nothing 
doing." H:: it She can — 

Finde nothing worthie to be writ, or told. 

Melpomene bewails the fact that there are no 
ger any worthy tragedians. 

Bj: I tkti in true tragedies am skild, 
The flo wrc of wit, findc nought to busic mc : 
Therefore I IPO UI B Cj md pitifully rr.cr.e, 
Because that mourning matter I have none. 

Gentk Thalia is in still worse plight 

O, all is gone ! and ail the goodly g 
Which wont to be the glorie of gay wits, 
Is layd abed, and no where now to see ; 
And in her roome unseemly Sorrow sits. 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS -5 

And J::~ beside i::s :gl" Birbirii — e, 
And rr_L5~ I^rince, vcrer: ;:' i:e 
Ou: :f dredd dirges ;:"*j:t iter i:-5~r. 



One muse ar:er an 
Only one :::■ : or 



: 

With the except the divine Elisa, all were 

" borne of salvage brood/* No wonder that each 

muse wept immoderately 

Bfbocnes such 5::re c:" :eires fhee :::::. :;: r; - -f. 
Did weep and waile and made exceedm* mane ; 



Tr.t rt 






C.u^C^ 



[n spite of these lamentations, one 

thinking that the sixteenth cen 
pretty well. To be sure. : or* ge: 
as thick as v — : they seldom are. 

Of course the same difficulty besets ' 
pilers of the Best Be . 

temporaries to compete. The author of a book 
of reminiscences of Oxio : "ale of the 



76 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

nineteenth century tells of a question put to the 
great Dr. Routh, then the head of Magdalen 
College and a great authority on literature. " If 
the English Language were to become a dead 
language, who would be remembered and hold 
the place of a classic, as Cicero in the Latin?" 
Dr. Routh answered that in his opinion the name 
that would survive the general wreck of English 
Literature would be that of Thomas Warton. 
Such judgments serve to point a wholesome 
moral : not to be too sure. Fame is like an absent- 
minded hostess. She receives her distinguished 
guest graciously and assures him of her undying 
regard. When, a little while after, she meets him, 
she inquires, " What name, please ? " 

As my present purpose is simply to call atten- 
tion to some of the most salient characteristics of 
poor writing, I shall confine my attention to two 
or three books that happened to be in my own 
library. I speak in this matter, not as an expert, 
but as an amateur. I have read a good many 
poor books, but I do not flatter myself that I 
know the worst. Nor do I feel that I have the 
ability ever to do so. There are books at which I 
can only gaze wistfully, as upon some land where 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 77 

no man comes or hath come since the making of 
the world. I have not the courage to explore 
these verbal wildernesses. If I were to choose a 
volume out of my limited collection to illustrate 
what a book ought not to be, it would be a mod- 
est little volume, published in the middle of the 
last century by the Religious Tract Society of 
London, and entitled " Our Domestic Fowls." I 
have no doubt but that there are worse books 
than " Our Domestic Fowls," but its faults are of 
such a typical character as to make it excellent 
material for a literary clinic. 

The author, Mr. Martin, was capable of con- 
structing sentences which were clear and which 
sometimes attained to a degree of elegance, but 
the effect of his work as a whole was to confound 
the understanding. 

The reason is not far to seek. Like most poor 
books, "Our Domestic Fowls" was made to order. 
In the introduction we are told that the Commit- 
tee of the Religious Tract Society has resolved 
to publish a volume each month adapted to the 
growing intelligence of the times. " The series 
will be Original, Scriptural, Popular, Portable, and 
Economical; that is to say, the twelve volumes 



7 8 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

of a year will cost less than three half-pence per 
week." 

Such were the austere requirements of the 
committee. It appears that the more attractive 
subjects had been treated already by other authors. 
The Life of Julius Csesar, Wild Flowers, The 
Solar System, Ancient Jerusalem, Self-Improve- 
ment, The Atmosphere, and Man in his Physical, 
Intellectual, Social and Moral Relations had been 
developed in such a way as to " supply valuable 
reading to a large number of people who could 
spare only time enough for the perusal of a small 
volume, and whose means would not allow of 
a more costly purchase." The cream had been 
skimmed off before Mr. Martin appeared, but 
there was left for him one subject, Domestic 
Fowls, which he was required to treat in the 
same Original, Scriptural, Portable, and Eco- 
nomical fashion that characterized the rest of the 
series. 

Here Mr. Martin made his fundamental mis- 
take, which was in undertaking to write the book. 
Had he been left: to choose his own subject, he 
might have done very well. Apparently he was 
a man of sound theological views, who at the 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 79 

same time had had some experience in poultry. 
Had he undertaken to write on either Systematic 
Theology 7 or Chicken-Raising, he might have 
got on. It was in the attempt to do both at the 
same time, in order to fulfill the requirements of 
the committee, that he came to grief. 

I have no doubt that the one hundred and 
ninety-two pages of this little book were the 
cause of much mental ai __ >h to Mr. Martin. 
The evidence of divided aim is but too apparent. 
No sooner did he become interested in describing 
the raising of ducks than his conscience would 
smite him with the thought that some reader was 
hungry for a scriptural application, and he would 
suddenlv remark, 44 Whether ducks. £eese, or 
other waterfowl were used as food by the Ancient 
Hebrews does not appear from any passage in 
the scriptures. They do not seem to have been 
interdicted, and as the Hebrews must have wit- 
nessed the extensive consumption of these birds 
while sojourning in Egypt, especially ducks and 
geese, they perhaps may have adopted their use." 
On the other hand, he says that it is just as likely 
44 that, influenced by their feelings ol ave> 
with respect to Egyptian rites and ceremonies, the 



:: THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

Hebrews ,";u/. nve regarded ducks and geese 
with disgust" 

Tne arg~u~ents on either sine art a'.:ke piausi- 
bie. but they serve :o interrupt tne train of 
thcught of one interested in tne more practical 
aspects of the subject. 

Mr. Martin begins his work by stating that 
"the only hist ry :f man in his primeval condi- 
tion is that contained in the book of Gene 
Tncugh Adam was given dominion not only 
over the fish of the sea. but also over the birds 
of the air, it is doubtful whether he exercised 
this dominion in the case of domestic poultry. 
The wath finds much difficulty in elucidating 
tne question of the reiation 01 the patriarchs to 
poultry, dc u relu ctantly to the conclusion 
that the patriarchs did not keep hens. He takes 
much comfort, however, in a 4 " casual and little 
noticed e xpressi on in tne First Book of Kings," 
that indicate! that in the days of Solomon the 

mestic fowl was kept in Judea. 

These nvev gad IB lake Mr. Martin far afield. 
Ther-r apologetic note in his treatment of 

the turkey and guinea-fowls. " As the guinea-hen 
and the turkey were originally imported from 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 81 

Central Africa and America, we can of course 
find no allusion to them in Scripture, but it is 
sorr.ewhi: s:nr..ge zhiz :he pheisir.: shzu'.i r.r: 
be noticed. He attempts to explain die omission 
in two sentences, which I will quote as an ex- 
ample of Mr. Martin's learned and dear style. 
Arte: seven!, reiiir.g-s, I zcr.ress I r.i^t -.:: :::: 
able to follow his line of thought. He says, "We 
think, however, that an easy explanation may be 
given : when the waters erf" the deluge were as- 
suaging, Noah selected two birds by way of 
experiment, die raven and the dove : the ark was 
M : : A :. _r: - A: r.c r. - . 

we have then a brief narration of a series of im- 
portant events extending over a period of three 
hundred and twenty-seven years, and a list of 
generations, till we come to the injunction laid 
upon Abraham to leave his country and kindred: 
he passed with Lot to the land of Canaan, and 
into E gypt, with flocks and herds, his pro- 
eforth he and his descendants led a 
nomadic life in Syria and Egypt, feeding their 
flocks and herds, their asses and camels. Conse- 
quently, that neither this elegant bird nor any 
other excepting turtle-doves and young pigeons 



S: THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

common in Syria, and used as offerings, should be 

aiiuiei to in :he history of the patriarchs. ::.:y re 
readily accounted for." 

Mr. Martin was a goad Protestant. Sneaking 
of the guinea-fowl, he says that while it was ori- 
ginally from Africa it was carried to Ame 
tt where it had been introduced with human 
bondsmen torn from their native soil to supply 
the place of the miserably slaughtered population 
of the Western World, and condemned to labor 
for the conquering white man, for him whose only 
passion was, under the veil of popish religion, the 
accursed thirst for gold." One would hardly have 
expected that the discussion of the guinea-hen 
would have given such a good opportunity to 
get a whack at the Papacy. 

Mr. Martin's condition is described in the title 
of one of Tennyson's poems. M Confessions of a 
S'':\rj~i-:i-*: Mind not at Unity with Itself. ? 

Here is a paragraph in which Mr. Martin 
struggles with different phases of his subject 
his usual lack of success: — 

u Of the utility of the fowl as an article of food, 
and of the goodness of its eggs, little need be said, 

are aware of the great numbers of the former 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 83 

cor.iu — ei :r. :he metropolis ilcne. in:.. ";-_h re- 
sit:: :: the latcer. : . : _ f ^ r. 1 5 i:e :-:__*; Im- 
ported rem Fnctce to meet the iemjmis ::" the 
market- In ill ic:es the :cok h_ii b-een :eleb:itei 
ii the harbinger or" the mom. vie herili c: lie 
sun -.vhese : lacier, sounis herbre me break ::" 
. v \Y .:.:.; - - :. :b: ; &r.; 

the i::i:e: or" the house shall :cme. :: evti 0: 1: 
miimaht 0: 1: :he ccok-crc-vmo;.'' 

Tine lack. 0: unity in this piraamipn r.us: smike 
the most uninstructed reader, and yet it arises 
from conscientious motives. The writer is always 
a:mo back :; the sub;ect ii prepared by :he 
committee. It is die same fetal impulse which is 
said :: lead the mcrnere: :o revisit me sztr.ts 
0: his crime. Mr. Martin camnct rerctet :b: 1 
moment his great responsibilities. He is always 
.: . : 5: * mcml shculd get : ' 

H.s m tt - 1 hoy o T _ 

separable. 

^". ee if ■....'.. " . ' 

:c ;.;-,-_: eo-ts rathe: than to sitting en then:, he 

into die sphere of Natural Theology. «*It 

- have stmck even the most superficial ob- 



84 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

server that the extraordinary fecundity of gallina- 
ceous fowls is a wise and most benevolent dispen- 
sation of Providence to provide more abundant 
food for man." 

Having made this edifying observation, he feels 
that he has discharged a spiritual duty and may 
return to a more utilitarian treatment of the sub- 
ject. 

For a hundred and eighty-nine pages Mr. Mar- 
tin struggles manfully with his subject. He is 
about to give us information as to the breeding 
of swans, when he suddenly determines to bring 
his dissertations to an end. 

" Here, then, we may close our account of the 
birds legitimately coming under the head of do- 
mestic poultry. A few words may be permitted 
on another subject." This subject is really number 
14 of the Series, "Man in his Physical, Intellec- 
tual, and Moral Relations." It is this subject which 
Mr. Martin has been hankering for all the time. 
He has only four pages, but he devotes it to The 
Fall of Man. "Man fell from his first estate, and 
the human race now stands as guilty, as criminal, 
as condemned by the law, to break one tittle of 
which is to break the whole." 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS S; 

Gathering together the threads of argument 
whichhe had left a: loose ends in :i\-i w\:[ :•-> : -r- 
ters on the gallinaceous fowls, he makes a fervent 
appeal to the sinner, and ends his book in gentlei 
tone, with a few comforting reflections for the 
saints. M Even now the day is brightening, Chris- 
tianity can number among its sincere professors 
men of every clime, from the i:e-bound north to 
the sunny isles 01 die southern seas, the skin-clad 
Greenlander familiar with the waves, the hardy 
Russ and Slavonian, the Angle, the Frank, the 
Hindoo, the Negro, the Red Rover of the Amer- 
ican forest, and the fierce Polynesian, once an 
idolater and a cannihaL" 

With this eieg.i::: v - : : m: n. Mr. Martin brings 
his book on M Our Domestic Fowls " to an abrupt 
conclusion. 

This book is useful in suggesting the cause of 
much unfortunate writing. The author has not a 
free hand. It is a case of too many cooks spoil- 
ing the broth. A committee may do many things 
well, but it cannot produce good literature. To 
d::.\v an illustration from the field with which 
Mr. Martin was familiar, : nay say that in litera- 
ture artificial incabeti : s not a success. 



86 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

One may observe the effects of outside influences 
in the labored style of government reports, inau- 
gural addresses, orations on important occasions, 
and in prize poems and essays. 

The dreariness of the official productions of the 
poets laureate of England is a case in point, for 
many of these gentlemen in their private capacity 
have been real poets. But their style invariably 
took a turn for the worse when they began to 
w r rite as contract laborers. 

The productions of this sort are like the early 
attempts of the heavier-than-air flying machines. 
The machine was first lifted to an elevated plat- 
form. After that its flight consisted of laborious 
flopping that concealed, but did not overcome, 
the force of gravity. 

Colley Cibber, who, after being made Poet 
Laureate, was elevated to the position of hero of 
u The Dunciad," complained that there was no- 
thing which the unmannerly wits of his day liked 
better than " a lick at the laureate." It is a sport 
which is still enjoyed. 

Why do the favorites of royalty write so badly 
when they are elevated into a place of such dig- 
nity? Boswell reports Dr. Johnson as saying of 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

Cibber : " His friends give out that he intended his 
birthday Odes should be bad; but that is not the 
case, sir. This charitable view seems also the 
reasonable one. It is not necessary to suppose 
that the almost uniform badness of official poetry 
comes from deliberate malfeasance in office. The 
honest poet does his best to earn his salary, and to 
give his ir money's worth. But some- 

thing happens to him. It is impossible for him 
to deliver the goc i 

Suppose Robe:: Burns, in an unfortunate mo- 
ment, to have been honored with the laureateship. 
He receives an order to produce a short : : r. :;: 
the king's birthday M Throw offjust a simple little 
thing, like the lines you wrote when you were 
ploughing. His Majesty prefers simplicity." 

Poor Burns! He cannot make King George 
seem as interesting a subject as a field mouse. 
All the felicities oi speech desert him. He can 
only render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, 
which, truth to tell. .. lulL 

If patrons in forme - 5 were the cause of 
much bad writing, publishers in these days are 
not without their burden 01 g The unwary 

writer commits himself to a literary project which 



88 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

is foreign to his genius. The conflict between 
what he wants to write and what he is paid to 
write, destroys all spontaneous charm. The com- 
mercialization of literature bears its own penalty. 
The literature that is made to order, following 
the specifications of the buyer without regard to 
the moods of the producer, is bound to be bad. 
Under these circumstances a skilled writer's pro- 
duction will not be so bad as the work of a novice, 
but at best it will only be a merchantable speci- 
men of his own worst manner. It must necessa- 
rily be so, as it is his work with himself left: out. 
The inability to write well unless one has some- 
thing he wants to write is, as the author of " Our 
Domestic Fowls " would say, " a wise provision. ' 
I have confined my attention to prose. To 
carry the investigation into poetry would be too 
painful. I have only one book of poems which I 
purchased because I suspected that it was bad, 
and in this adventure I hazarded only fifteen cents. 
I was attracted by the title, "Poems by Jones." 
If the author's initials had been given I should not 
have bought the book. The stark title promised 
something rigidly unpoetic, and the promise was 
fulfilled. 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 89 

Jones published his poems in 1759, and, with 
the exception of a lady who left some rose- 
petals between the leaves, I flatter myself that I 
am the only person in one hundred and fifty years 
who has read the book. 

The principal poem is entitled M Philosophy, a 
poem addressed to the ladies who attended Mr. 
Booth's lectures in Dublin." Mr. Booth, it ap- 
pears, lectured on natural philosophy. 

Jones describes the way in which the ladies 
listened to the lecture and watched the experi- 
ments in physics : — 

What pleasing fervours in each Bosom rise, 
What deep attention and what fixed surprise. 

We can almost see the " fixed surprise " of the 
eighteenth-century ladies as the experiments came 
out just as the lecturer said they would. 
Well does the poet say, — 

Thrice happy few, that wisely here attend 
The voice of Science and her Cause befriend. 

To you bright nymphs whose wisdom charms us most, 

The pride of Nature, and Creation's boast, 

To you Philosophy enamoured flies 

And triumphs in the plaudits of your eye*. 



90 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

That was very flattering, and I like to think that 
the rose-petals were left in the book by one of the 
lecture-going ladies of Dublin when it was last 
opened in the winter of the year 1759. 

In the title of another poem, Jones uncon- 
sciously lets us into the secret of the Art of Poetry 
as it has been practiced in all ages by the worst 
poets. It is a poem entitled, " To the Rev. Dr. 
Mann, occasioned by the author's asking him for 
a subject to write on, and his saying he could 
think of none." 

The poet, having no ideas of his own and be- 
ing unable to borrow any from his friends, falls 
into a gentle melancholy. In attempting to ex- 
press this melancholy sense of intellectual destitu- 
tion, he is greatly surprised to find that he has 
written a poem of considerable length. 

Standing on the same shelf with " Our Domestic 
Fowls" is another little volume of the same period, 
"The Young Lady's Aid to Usefulness and Hap- 
piness." It is difficult to tell what is the matter with 
this book. There are no obvious faults to attract 
the attention. There are no sentiments which 
could do the least harm to the delicate young 
lady portrayed on the frontispiece. Yet it has 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 91 

only been by a great effort of will that I have been 
able to read more than one sentence at a sitting; 

Dip into the book at any point, and you feel that 
you have read that page before. 

Here is a specimen sentence, on page 122: 
"The particular suggestions are that the great 
object of education is to draw out exercise, and 
develop the various faculties of our nature, that 
books and studies are the means of accomplish- 
ing this object but as the strength and develop- 
ment of the mental powers depend upon the 
actual exercise of these powers rather than upon 
the particular studies and subjects on which the 
mind is exercised, it sometimes happens that 
those who are deprived of books and 50 :es do 
by similar exercise of their minds upon the actual 
duties and trials of life, obtain the same or 5: t- 
lar valuable results with others, and that conse- 
quently those young ladies who enjoy great ad- 
vantages should remember that the value of their 
education will depend upon their own faithful- 
ness in the right exercise of their mind, rather 
than upon the high character of the advan: _ 
they enjoy, while those who are deprived 01 :;. 
privileges may be encouraged to seek fo: 



92 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

same valuable results in rightly meeting and 
rightly discharging the duties of life." 

This is what in the language of penology 
would be called an "indeterminate sentence." 

The obvious criticism is that it is too long, and 
the attempt might be made to improve it by 
chopping it up into small pieces. This would be 
a makeshift like that of the cook who, when a 
piece of meat is too tough and tasteless to be 
served whole, has it minced. 

There was a poem which I learned in my 
childhood in which the question is propounded : — 

How big was Alexander, Pa ? 

The people call him Great. 
Was he like old Goliath tall, 

His spear, a hundred weight ? 

The answer was one that appealed to common 
sense : — 

'T was not his stature made him great 
But the greatness of his mind. 

So one may say of the sentence in the " Young 
Lady's Aid," it is not its length that makes it tedi- 
ous, but the tediousness of the author's mind. This 
is apparent when we compare it with an equally 
extended sentence of Milton on the same subject. 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 93 

Milton's sentence sweeps everything before it. 
It fills every nook and cranny, and we are carried 
along by its uncontrolled energy. The senter.ee in 
the %% Young Lady's Aid" moves also, but i: moves 
on a pivot. The same phrases reappear like the 
gilt chariots in a merry-go-round. To be reminded 
once of the trials and duties of life is salutary, but 
when the same trials and duties which gave sol- 
emnity to the first half of the sentence reappear 
in the second half, and we are again assured 01 
the valuable results of education, the result is in- 
tellectual vertigo. 

A comparison between selected passages from 
the Hundred Best and the Hundred Worst Books 
might throw light on the question how far educa- 
tion affects literary style. There is a field in which 
instruction avails. There are obvious faults that 
can be corrected, and there are excellences that 
can be attained, by training. But there is, beyond 
that, the field for native qualities. 

There is an incommunicable grace of language 
which is "the glory of gay wits." We may be 
taught to recognize it and to enjoy it, but we can- 
not be taught to imitate it. In any bit of writing 
it is either there or it is not there. If it is there, 



94 THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 

we are glad ; if it is not there, the best teacher 
cannot correct the deficiency. 

If the best is inimitable, so fortunately is the 
worst. The poorest writing must be accepted as 
a gift of Nature. Lord Chatham said of the mem- 
bers of Lord North's cabinet, "They have brought 
themselves where ordinary inability never arrives, 
and nothing but first-rate geniuses in incapacity 
can reach." A study of the works of first-rate 
geniuses in literary incapacity will show that by 
no rearrangement of sentences or application of 
formal rules can they be greatly improved; for, 
in each case, the style is the man. The fact to be 
considered in regard to the worst writer is, not 
that he makes mistakes, but that he is a mistake. 

We come back to the theory of the Dunciad, 
where the Goddess Dulness is described : — 

Laborious, heavy, busy, bold, and blind, 
She ruled in native anarchy the mind. 

A learned footnote explains: "Dulness is here to 
be taken, not contrastedly for mere stupidity, but 
in the enlarged sense of the word for all slowness 
of apprehension, shortness of sight, or imperfect 
sense of things. It includes (as we see from the 
poet's own words) some degree of boldness, a 



THE HUNDRED WORST BOOKS 95 

ruling principle, not inert, but turning topsy-turvy 
the understanding and inducing a confused state 
of mind." No educational device has yet been in- 
vented by which sweetness and light may be ex- 
tracted from this confused state of mind. 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 



ONCE upon a time there was an Old Libra- 
rian who, attending a convention of his 
profession, closed his eyes. This was not because 
the papers were uninteresting; nor was it bee. 
they were not important if true, for they were 
both important and true. But the papers were 
many and the librarian was no longer young; 
therefore he closed his eyes that he might more 
easily follow the thought So he followed the 
thought until he was out of hearing of the some- 
what too even voice of the gentleman who was 
reading. 

Suddenly he found himself in a convention of 
books. Now, the librarian had always loved books, 
and had cared fix - safety, and had planned to 
extend their usefulness. But in the country to 
which he had been transported the conditions are 
reversed. The books assume responsibility for the 
can oi 6 i readers, and arrange them in order 
and decide upon their merits. For the books in 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 5- 

their own country set great store by their readers. 
When a book misplaces its readers, or loses diem, it 
is looked upor: as ur. skillful. Itisnosmallachievc- 
ment :c: a book to look after a large collection 
of miscellaneous readers, and to select those that 
valuable. 
When the Old Librarian arrived, the conven- 
tion hall was almost fulL There were books of 
all sizes and ages, all engaged in animated con- 
versation. There were venerable folios, grave 
middle-aged quartos, flashy young duodecimos. 
Blue-bloodec elbowed by pushing 

44 best sellers." Shabby odd volumes shambled 
about, looking for members of their family circle 
from - they had been separated for years. 

Now and then a superannuated text-book, lean 
and haggard, would ask for information from a 
pert young fellow who had once been his pupiL 
A slight willowy poem would trip along with a 
look of vag d her innocent eyes, as if 

she were seeking some one 1 ould tell 

what she was all about She would draw her dainty 
singing robes around her to the touch of 

some horny-handed son of prose with the dust of 
the Census Bureau yet upon him. There were 



98 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

grave, learned books who were spoken of with 
bated breath as "Authorities"; and there were 
" Original Sources," aristocrats of long lineage, 
who still clung to the antique garb of their 
youth. 

There were few in the company who ventured 
upon any familiarity with these worthies. It was 
however whispered by an enterprising Thesis, who 
had made their acquaintance, that some of them, 
in their own day and generation, had been rather 
common. 

Near the doors were groups of half-grown pam- 
phlets who had not yet reached the dignity of 
full book-hood. They formed a disturbing ele- 
ment, and it was a question whether they should 
be admitted to the floor, it being very difficult to 
keep these unbound hobbledehoys in order. 

The Old Librarian was not one of those in- 
defatigable persons who can sit through all the 
meetings furnished by conscientious programme- 
makers. He was glad that so many papers were 
provided at all hours, but there was a touch of 
altruism in his nature, so that he rejoiced in the 
thought of the information which the minds of 
others received while his own lay fallow. After the 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 99 

convention had been opened, he wandered in a 
leisurely way from one section to another, listen- 
ing to such of the discussions as interested him, 
and observing how the books conducted their 
business. 

There was much wrangling over the report of 
the Committee on Credentials, as there was a 
great difference of opinion as to what constitutes 
a book. It is an old controversy between the 
strict constructionists and those of more demo- 
cratic tendencies. In this case the strict construc- 
tionists were outvoted, and the Old Librarian 
noticed a number of volumes taking part in the 
proceedings, to whom he would not have given 
the privileges of the floor. 

There was one general subject for discussion, 
" The Care of Readers," but each section consid- 
ered its own questions of technique. Never had 
the Old Librarian been so impressed with the sense 
of the importance of readers. The president in his 
opening address declared that the reader could no 
longer be treated as a negligible quantity. Read- 
ers might be said to be almost essential to the 
existence of books. It was a great satisfaction to 
the Old Librarian to hear this, for he had often 



ioo THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

been grieved at the haughty airs of certain of the 
more learned books who had refused to make any 
allowance for the natural infirmities of their read- 
ers. They would lead them into verbal labyrinths 
and heartlessly leave them there, laughing with 
erudite glee at their confusion. But this was not 
the spirit of the convention. 

The Old Librarian listened with much interest 
to a paper on " The Classification of Readers." 
The readers were classified according to the natural 
method, — 

The readers who read through, 

The readers who read at, 

The readers who read in, 

The readers who read round about, 

And the well-beloved readers who read be- 
tween the lines. 

BoswelPs " Life of Johnson " said that he was 
accustomed to divide readers into two classes, the 
herbivorous and the carnivorous. The herbivor- 
ous reader is a quiet, ruminating creature who 
likes to browse in a library. He could best illus- 
trate the characteristic of the carnivorous species 
by quoting a note that he had made of Dr. John- 
son's way of reading. " He seemed to read it 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 101 

ravenously as if he devoured it. . . . He knows 
how to read better than any one ... he gets at the 
substance of a book directly, he tears the heart 
out of it. He kept it wrapt up in the table-cloth 
in his lap during the time of dinner, . . . resem- 
bling (if I may use so coarse a simile) a dog who 
holds a bone in his paws in reserve while he eats 
something else which has been thrown to him." 

" How shocking ! " said Mrs. Hemans's Poems, 
shuddering. 

" Do not be alarmed, madam. I was only using 
a figure of speech." 

A paper was read on " The Treatment of 
Ephemeral Readers ; how they may be catalogued 
to be made available during their lifetime and 
retired with the least time and labor." 

There was some difference of opinion as to 
what constitutes an ephemeral reader. Kant's " Cri- 
tique of Pure Reason" defined him as one who 
never got beyond the title-page. He never felt 
that a reader was worth cataloguing unless he had 
got into the first chapter. He was sorry to say 
that most of his readers belonged, not to the class 
that reads in, but to that which only reads about. 

Royce's " The World and the Individual " re- 



102 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

marked that he had noticed a good many of these 
second-hand readers of Kant lying around in the 
colleges. 

"I wonder," said "The Spectator," "why so 
many readers insist on forcing themselves into the 
company of books that are above their station in 
life. They must know that they would be happier 
with those of their own class." 

" I remember a remark of Dr. Johnson which 
may throw some light on the situation," said Bos- 
well's " Life of Johnson." " It was one day when 
we visited the Pantheon in London, then newly 
opened as a place of entertainment. I said, when 
I had paid the entrance fee, ' There 's not a half- 
guinea's worth of pleasure in seeing this place.' 
To which Dr. Johnson replied, ' But, sir, there 's 
half a guinea's worth of inferiority to other people 
in not having seen it.' " 

" It 's lucky that so many readers have that ami- 
able weakness," drawled Lord Chesterfield's Let- 
ters. " Those big-wigs over there," pointing to the 
World's Classics, "wouldn't be dressed in full 
morocco if it were n't that every blessed reader is 
willing to give his guineas to be saved from the 
inferiority of not knowing them." 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 103 

Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy " rose from 
his chair with some effort, to resent what seemed 
to him an unworthy fling at the readers whose 
reading was done by proxy. 

" I have been highly esteemed and kept in good 
reputation by successive generations that have 
taken me on trust. They slap me on the back and 
call me ■ Good old Burton,' and ' Quaint old Bur- 
ton,' and quote somebody who quoted somebody 
I quoted. I have no doubt but that they will keep 
it up for several hundred years longer. Is n't it 
just as well as if they actually took the trouble to 
read me ? They certainly have kept up a pleasant 
speaking acquaintance." 

The " Complete Works of Josephus," neatly 
attired in calf, arose to testify to his approval of the 
philosophical remarks of his young friend. Two 
hundred years is a short time in the life of a book. 
As for himself, he was approaching his second 
millennium, and he was happy to say that his cir- 
culation was still good. Since his first publication 
no generation had arisen that knew not Josephus. 
He attributed his longevity to his regular habits. 
He had very early got himself talked about in 
learned and semi-learned circles. Works dealing 



io 4 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

in a popular way with Hebrew history are accus- 
tomed to say to their readers, "See Josephus." 

" Do the readers see you ? " asked a thin, anxious- 
looking commentary. 

" That is immaterial," answered the Complete 
Works. " They like to have me near at hand, so 
that they can see me in case of emergency. If one 
is asked to address a meeting of Sunday-school 
teachers it is a great convenience to be able to 
say, 4 Herod Antipas must not be confounded 
with Herod the Tetrarch, as is well known by 
every reader of Josephus.' Now, every one is 
liable to be asked to address a meeting of Sunday- 
school teachers at some time or other, and it gives 
a feeling of security to have me at hand. Of course 
a narrow-minded person may deny that readers of 
this kind should be included in the card-catalogue, 
but I should not know what to do without them. 
But for them I should be as lonesome as my old 
friend Philo of Alexandria. He had a great repu- 
tation in his day, but he is now known only to 
scholars. There is no distinction in that, for 
scholars are willing to know anything." 

The " Letters of Junius" said that he had spent 
a great deal of time in the study of readers, en- 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 105 

deavoring to find out what became of them. The 
more he looked into the matter, the more the 
mystery deepened. It was not merely the fugitive 
reader that disappeared. He supposed that every 
book here that had made a collection could tell of 
serious losses. 

" Friendship's Garland," a single volume of 
uncertain age, said that she had been greatly 
troubled in this way. All her readers had mysteri- 
ously disappeared without fault of her own. Far 
be it from her to cast suspicion upon her fellow- 
books, but she feared that, if an investigation were 
made, it might be found that some of them had 
readers that didn't belong to them. 

Rollin's " Ancient History " said that once he 
had a large number of readers that he had collected 
with much industry. They had disappeared one 
by one. He supposed that it was now too late to 
recover them. Works of Fiction had at one time 
been accused of purloining readers from unsuspect- 
ing Histories. He had noticed a gang of Historical 
Romances loafing in the vicinity. They were sus- 
picious characters living without visible means of 
support. Many years ago " Thaddeus of Warsaw " 
had borrowed some of his readers and had never 



106 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

returned them. He had, however, been told that 
of late there had been a reformation among Works 
ot Fiction and that they are becoming quite seri- 
ous. 

" That is true," said a sad-faced problematic 
novel. " There is no danger to be apprehended 
from us. We are poor but honest." 

Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman 
Empire " remarked that while such petty larcenies 
as those of which " Thaddeus of Warsaw " was 
accused were to be reprehended, we must push 
the investigations to the books higher up. He 
himself had lost some valuable readers. " We must 
protect ourselves from the depredations of certain 
malefactors of great literary wealth." 

As he sat down he cast a searching glance at 
the Waverley Novels. 

" I hope that all questions involving property 
rights in readers may be submitted to arbitration," 
said Disraeli's "Quarrels of Authors." "It would 
save much ink-shed." 

" As for the losses of our honorable friend the 
4 Decline and Fall,' perhaps another explanation 
might be given," said Horace Walpole's Letters. 
" It may only be that his readers are mortal. There 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS ic- 

was a remark of my Lord Chesterfield that was 
famous in its day. When he and his friend Lord 
Tyrawley had been missed from the gay society 

in which they had been ornaments, my Lord 
explained : ■ Tyrawley and I have been dead 

these two years, but we don't choose to have it 
known.' " 

i% Do you know." said James's %i Pragmatism." 
46 that I sometimes think that we books take our- 
selves too seriously. Why shouldn't our readers 
slip away from us if they can'? It shows their 
sense. Just because we are bound volumes and 
sport a table of contents, we think there must be 
something in us. Sometimes there is. but the rela- 
tion between printed matter and mind is variable. 
There is a gTeat deal of superstition in the as- 
sumption of our educational value. It is tar from 
absolute. I should n't wonder if we were some 
day put out of business by the fitteen-cent maga- 
zines." 

" Hear! hear !" cried Poole's u Index." 

" It all depends," said M The Strenuous Life." 
" on the man behind the book. Now in Africa — " 

"Speaking of Africa and of educational values," 
interrupted Mungo Park's M Travels in the Interior 



io8 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

of Africa/' " I have seen a good deal of them both. 
If you don't mind my repeating myself, I will 
tell you of a little experience I had. It was some 
time after I had escaped from Tiggeity Sego, and 
I was taking leave of the Dooty of Dingyee. I 
had stayed over night with an old Foulah whose 
name I now forget. In the morning, as I was about 
to depart, he, with a great deal of diffidence, begged 
me to give him a lock of my hair. He had been 
told that a white man's hair made a saphie (charm) 
that would give the possessor all the knowledge 
of white men. I had never before heard of so 
simple a mode of education, but instantly com- 
plied with the request ; but my landlord's thirst 
for learning was such that with cutting and pull- 
ing he cropped one side of my head pretty closely, 
and would have done the same with the other had 
I not signified my disapprobation by putting on 
my hat and assuring him that I wished to reserve 
some of the precious merchandise for a future 
occasion." 

" I must make a note of that," said G. Stanley 
Hall's " Adolescence," taking out his fountain-pen. 
" It is a very interesting variation in pedagogy. 
Here is Mr. Mungo Park, who tells us that in 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 109 

Wassiboo it was supposed that a liberal educa- 
tion could be obtained by cutting off the hair of 
any traveling gentleman of the Caucasian race. 
The candidate for a degree evidently followed a 
strict curriculum. In our colleges, on the other 
hand, our adolescents firmly believe that a liberal 
education may be obtained by allowing the hair 
to grow long and thick about the time of the au- 
tumnal equinox. This is a survival of the ancient 
cult of the gridiron, which is connected with human 
sacrifices." 

"After all," said Sir Thomas Browne's " Vulgar 
Errors," "there is a good deal to be said in behalf 
of this capillary theory of education. It indicates 
that even in modern times the primitive notion 
is preserved that education has something to do 
with the head. The only dubiety is as to whether 
the educational process shall go on internally or 
externally. This is but a detail. The superstition 
that is more common is one by which we books 
profit. There are those who attribute to us a magic 
which produces results altogether independent of 
any activity either within the cerebral cavity or on 
the superficies of the cranium. They imagine that 
a book is a perfect substitute for the fatiguing 



no THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

process of cerebration. Such readers would con- 
sider it a work of supererogation to use their own 
heads. I would admit that this superstition is less 
rational than that to which our friend ' Travels in 
the Interior of Africa ' refers, but the question is, 
Should we disturb it? We books must live. Of 
course we know that we are not really wiser than 
the people who write us, and we may know no 
more than the people who read us, but should we 
take the public into our confidence ? " 

At this point Tupper's "Proverbial Philo- 
sophy " arose and inquired anxiously whether any 
reporters were present. On being assured that there 
were none, he said that he would venture to re- 
mark that every book is as wise as he looks and 
every reader as wise as he feels. 

" Still," said Hill's " Rhetoric," " we must re- 
member that we all make mistakes. No book is 
a hero to his own proof-reader." 

Pope's "Essay on Criticism" asked to be 
allowed to correct his learned friend the " Vulgar 
Errors," who had accused certain passive readers 
of not using their heads. It was only fair to say that 
they allowed their heads to be used free of charge. 
They are useful as storehouses. Miscellaneous 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS in 

material left in cold storage was never interfered 
with, and when called for was found in the same 
condition in which it arrived. He would therefore 
repeat the tribute which he had given some time 
since to — 

The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, 
With loads of learned lumber in his head. 

u In behalf of some of the most respectable books 
here present, I would return thanks for such re- 
positories." 

" I don't understand all this talk about losing 
readers," said the Kansas City Directory. "I'm 
only a plain business book, and I don't pretend to 
have what you literary fellows call ■ style/ but I 
manage to keep my readers all right. The great 
thing is to find out what your readers want and 
give it to them. Now my readers don't want 
ideas, they want facts; so I give them the facts 
in the original packages. One of my wealthiest 
readers told me that for a dozen years he had 
given up acquaintance with any books but those 
of my kind. He liked something reliable. He 
had once, he said, been taken in by one ■ Sartor 
Resartus,' who purported to furnish a Philosophy 
of Clothes. Being in the clothing line himself he 



ii2 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

thought he might get some good ideas. I will 
not repeat what my friend said, for 4 Sartor Re- 
sartus ' may be present and I would not hurt his 
feelings. When a reader comes to me I give him 
what he comes for. The trouble with you fellows 
who advertise ■ culture ' is that the readers don't 
know what it is, and they are not sure whether 
they get it from you or not." 

Here Matthew Arnold's "Culture and An- 
archy" rose to a point of order. 

Marie Corelli's Works then read a paper en- 
titled "A Heavy Plea for Light Readers." She 
argued that the economic law of supply and de- 
mand should be more fully recognized in high 
critical circles. She also argued against govern- 
ment by injunction. A bench of critics had no right 
to enjoin light readers who were engaged in the 
pursuit of happiness. 

In the discussion that followed, complaint was 
made that the most troublesome reader of the 
lighter sort was the humorous reader. He was 
always finding in a book something which the 
author had not intended to be seen. 

In order to weed out such readers, it was moved 
that a committee be appointed to be composed 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 113 

of the clerical members of the convention. It was 
hoped that their professional gravity might have 
a restraining effect on those addicted to the lighter 
vein. 

The chair appointed the " Wit and Wisdom " 
of the Rev. Sydney Smith, " A Sentimental Jour- 
ney" of the Rev. Laurence Sterne, the " Lyrics " 
of the Rev. Robert Herrick, and the " Complete 
Works" of the Very Reverend Jonathan Swift, 
Dean of St. Patrick's. The " Dunciad " called at- 
tention to one " who sits and shakes in Rabelais's 
easy chair," and said that it should not be forgot- 
ten that Rabelais was of the cloth. The chairman 
declared that it might as well be forgotten, and 
that he would so rule. 

By way of interlude, Chesterton's " Essays " 
consented to entertain the company as a presti- 
digitator. He was not, he explained, a prestidigi- 
tator, but that made no difference. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," said the "Essays," 
" I will not flatter you by saying ■ a penny for 
your thoughts.' I never pay more than the mar- 
ket price for such articles; but I will ask you to 
lend me a few thoughts, if you happen to have 



ii 4 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

any about you. Any simple little thing will do ; 
all I ask is that it shall have been long enough 
in your possession to make you think that it is 
your own." 

Several truisms were handed up, together with 
one or two brand-new paradoxes. 

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen; be sure 
not to take your eyes off your thoughts while they 
are in my hands; something might happen to 
them. I suppose you want them back? Certainly, 
you shall have them. They are of no value ex- 
cept to the owner, but I understand your feeling 
about them, they have associations. Here they are ! 
By my faith, they do look different. 

" Here, madam, is your Orthodoxy, which you 
handed me just now. It's the newest thing out. 
So original ! How did you get hold of an idea 
that nobody ever happened on before? It's a 
great find, and yet you were so demure about it 
I was deceived at first : you seemed to take it as 
a mere matter of course. And here, sir, is your 
Heresy which you allowed me to examine. If 
you take a good look at it, you will see the name 
of Athanasius stamped on the right-hand corner. 
It 's genuine old-fashioned fourth-century ortho- 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 115 

doxy, sixteen hundred years old, if it is a day. It's 
greatly to your credit that you have it in your 
possession, for I trust you came by it honestly. 

" Will any other lady or gentleman lend me 
a thought ? " 

Bartlett's " Familiar Quotations" handed up 
"And things are not what they seem." 

"Quite so," said the "Essays," "that's what 
people generally suppose, but of course the fact 
is just the contrary. Things are things, and that is 
just what they seem to be. It is you who are not 
what you seem. You seem to be philosophizing on 
the nature of things, but if you would stop to con- 
sider you would be convinced that you are doing 
nothing of the kind." 

The "Familiar Quotations " acknowledged that 
this was perfectly true. 

"There must be some trick about all this, I can 
but think," said a small thin book who stood at 
the back of the hall. 

" Did I hear correctly ? " asked the " Essays." 
" Did you assert, * I can but think ' ? Why, my 
dear sir, that is the one thing you cannot do. 

" Ladies and gentlemen, I suppose some of you 
have by this time got the idea that I am quite 



n6 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

clever and original because I have so many ideas 
that are different from your own. I assure you 
that you are altogether mistaken. It is you who 
are clever, having so many ideas that I can differ 
with. I am only a plain, plodding, literal-minded 
person, who cannot understand your brilliant para- 
doxes. I have contracted the habit of contradict- 
ing them at sight, and in nine cases out of ten it 
turns out that I am right. The results may seem 
monotonous, but I can't help that." 

The Old Librarian shook his head doubtfully, 
for he had always enjoyed the " Essays," and in 
spite of his disclaimer he felt that he was really 
very clever after all. He remembered an illuminat- 
ing remark of his: "I never in my life said any- 
thing because I thought it was funny ; though of 
course I may have had ordinary human vainglory 
and may have thought it funny because I said it. 

"It is one thing to describe an interview with 
a gorgon or a griffin which never existed ; it is 
another thing to discover that a rhinoceros does 
exist, and then to take pleasure in the fact that 
he looks as if he did n't. 

" I think we owe a great debt," said the Old 
Librarian, " to one who makes a specialty of the 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 117 

things which are true and which look as if they 
were n't. When the mind gets sluggish from lack 
of sufficiently varied exercise, and can move only 
one way, I believe there is great benefit in going 
to some one like the 'Essays' for vigorous osteo- 
pathic treatment." 

The spirit of the convention was thoroughly 
democratic, and yet there was a tendency for cer- 
tain congenial books to get together. Various 
groups were thus formed by their natural affinity 
for certain readers. No greater pleasure exists for 
the reader than to select the book friends in whose 
company he has spent many hours ; and the books 
have the same feelings. They always think that 
their own readers are the best. The Old Librarian 
had some compunction of conscience when he re- 
membered that he had been compelled to force so 
many volumes into unnatural and irksome com- 
panionship, and to bring them together according 
to subjects instead of according to personal lik- 
ings. 

He fell in with Sir John Lubbock's "Best 
Books," and the " Heart of Oak," and many "Se- 
lect Libraries." There were little groups gathered 



n8 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

around veterans who were giving reminiscences 
of readers they had known. Homer's Iliad told 
about nights he had spent with Alexander the 
Great. After the battle they two would refresh 
their souls with talk about Achilles and windy 
Troy. Plato's " Republic " recalled the converse 
with Hadrian and Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, 
when they were doing all that heroic rulers could 
do to arrest the decay of the Roman Empire. When 
that plan failed he had communed with Augustine 
in regard to the City of God that was to be the new 
spiritual empire. After the invasion of the barba- 
rians, he said, he had taken several centuries off, 
leaving his friend Aristotle to wrestle with the 
ignorance of the times. About the fifteenth cen- 
tury, he had returned to active life much refreshed, 
and since then he had known intimately all the 
men of light and leading. He had, however, little 
time to dwell upon the past, as the twentieth-cen- 
tury problems were so interesting, and there seemed 
so little time in which to get ready for the twenty- 
first. Whereupon he began to talk with all his 
old-time enthusiasm about the future. 

Machiavelli's " Art of War " talked in a breezy 
fashion of his experience in Virginia, where he 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 119 

had gone in company with his inseparable friend 
Captain John Smith. Many were the times when 
they discussed the question whether the tactics 
that proved effective in the valley of the Po, or 
in the passes of the Apennines, would be success- 
ful against the Red Indians. 

Bunyan's " Pilgrim's Progress " told of a reader 
he had met in a backwoods cabin. He was an 
unformed lad named Abraham Lincoln, who had 
little acquaintance with books. " I liked him none 
the less for that. I used to tell him of Mr. Great- 
heart and Mr. Honest and Mr. Valiant-for-the- 
Truth. One night I told him how Giant Grim 
and his lions blocked the way of the pilgrims and 
said that they could go no further along the King's 
highway. Now Mr. Greatheart was a strong man, 
so he was not afraid of a lion. And he said, 
1 These women and children are going on a pil- 
grimage, and this is the way they must go, and go 
it they shall, in spite of thee and the lions.' I 
thought by the light in the boy's eyes that some 
day if he should meet Giant Grim and his lions he 
might prove another Greatheart; and so, I am 
told, he did." 

"Isn't it remarkable," said the "Rubaiyat" of 



120 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

Omar Khayyam, "what little incidents will turn 
the whole current of our lives? I was over seven 
hundred years old before I learned English, which 
I speak now better than I do my native Persian. 
I fell in quite by accident with a European named 
Fitz-something-or-other, who introduced me to a 
new circle, so that I am now living a most excit- 
ing life. I find that my most enthusiastic readers 
live — not in Ispahan, but in Chicago. I have a 
reader who every evening is suspended from a 
strap and hurled through space in a machine in- 
vented by a malignant whirling dervish. As he 
sways back and forth, he murmurs to himself, — 

g A book of verses underneath the Bough, 
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou 
Beside me singing in the Wilderness, 
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow! ' 

u By the way, I remember what a hard time Fitz 
had over that quatrain. 

" 6 1 wish,' he said, ■ I could make " Bough " 
rhyme with "Enough."' 

" ' It looks like a good rhyme,' I said, spelling 
the words, 'e-n-o-u-g-h rhymes sufficiently well 
with b-o-u-g-h.' 

" fc No, it does n't,' replied Fitz; 'in this Ian- 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 121 

guage if words are spelled the same they are pro- 
nounced differently.' 

"'Then why don't you spell them differently, 
and people will pronounce them alike % ' 

" And so he did, and now every one pronounces 
'enow' so as to rhyme with 'bough.'" 

" ■ Enow ■ is a perfectly good obsolete form," 
growled the Century Dictionary. 

" I am glad to know it," said the " Rubaiyat." 

In wandering about, the Old Librarian found 
himself in the Hall of Fame. Since the time 
when oral tradition became untrustworthy the 
reputations of distinguished men have been en- 
trusted to books. Many of the older monuments 
in the Hall were crumbling and their inscriptions 
were illegible, but the newer portions presented 
a scene of brisk activity. Monuments were being 
prepared for an enormous number of candidates 
for immortality. 

"What an infernal rush!" muttered Haydn's 
"Dictionary of Dates." " In the old times we were 
not expected to put down a man's name till a 
century after his death. Then if we forgot what 
his name was there was no one else to remember 



122 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

and make trouble. But now if a distinguished 
citizen does not find his name mentioned in 
4 Who 's Who ' he calls at the office and inquires 
angrily, 'What's What; and Why?'" 

"It's nothing to what it is on my continent," 
said " Who 's Who in South Africa." " Elsewhere 
genius is sporadic, with us it 's epidemic." 

" It 's even more so down our way," said 
" Who 's Who in Australasia." " Do you happen 
to know how many poets we have ? Pray, look 
at my list. They are all famous. I suppose that 
there 's something in the climate that accounts 
for it. Our poets have multiplied prodigiously, 
owing to the absence of their natural enemies, the 
critics. You know our poets, of course ? " 

" Never heard of them," said " Who 's Who 
in Massachusetts." 

" What 's Massachusetts ? " inquired " Who 's 
Who in Australasia." " Why does n't some one 
provide us with a ■ Where 's Where ' ? " 

" That reminds me ," murmured Longfellow's 
Poems, absent-mindedly, — 

"When Mazarvan the Magician 

Journeyed westward through Cathay, 
Nothing heard he but the praises 
Of Badoura on his way. 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 123 

" But the lessening rumor ended 
When he came to Khaledan, 
There the folk were talking only 
Of Prince Camaralzaman. 

M So it happens with the poets : 
Every province hath its own ; 
Camaralzaman is famous 

Where Badoura is unknown." 

The Old Librarian was convinced of the wis- 
dom of those who urged the over-ambitious read- 
ers to make the intimate acquaintance of a few 
good books who would stay by them through life. 
For their own pleasure and profit they must make 
a choice of friends, and a few real friends are 
worth a host of ill-assorted acquaintances. He was 
not therefore disturbed by the good-natured chaff- 
ing which always accompanies the attempt at 
bringing together those who ought to know each 
other. 

There are little jealousies among books, and it is 
impossible to please all of them. He was con- 
scious of this when, in a corner of the hall, he saw 
a number of books chosen for their especial ser- 
viceableness being seated on a divan five feet 
long. Each as his name was called came forward 



i24 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

with a look of modest merit, while betraying a 
momentary surprise as he glanced at his neighbor. 
This is only book-nature. "John Woolman's 
Journal," finding himself not far from the "Ara- 
bian Nights," was ill at ease. 

"Friend, I fear thou art one of the world's 
people, being decked in gay apparel. I warn thee 



against vanities. 



He was reassured by seeing one of William 
Penn's works in close converse with Adam Smith's 
" Wealth of Nations." 

Five feet, though ample to accommodate any 
one reader's intimate book friends, is rather a small 
space, and however wise the choice, some excel- 
lent candidates are sure to be left out. This neces- 
sarily causes criticism. 

When " A Blot in the 'Scutcheon " was invited, 
there was some hard feeling among the other 
works of Robert Browning. " Saul " maintained a 
dignified silence, and " Sordello " looked on with 
enigmatic calm ; but " Pippa Passes" whispered 
pettishly to " The Ring and the Book." Some 
people, she said, were just as good as some other 
people. 

Most of the invited books were quite sober, 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 125 

but "Tarn O'Shanter" was evidently a little in- 
toxicated by his success. " Sorry that you \ r e been 
left out," he said to Wordsworth's M Excursion/' 
slapping him on the back. * But we don't think 
any less of you because you are not in our set. 
As a friend of mine said, ■ A book 's a book for a' 
that and a 5 that.' " 

" When it 's so crowded," answered the " Ex- 
cursion," "you have the advantage over me in 
being rather slight." 

" Good-morrow ! " said Walton's " Compleat 
Angler " to Emerson's " Essays." " It 's pleasant 
to see new faces. We old fellows find such occa- 
sions a little sad. So many old friends drop out. 
I am a survivor of Dr. Johnson's list of service- 
able books. You know he made out a list for 
young Mr. Astle of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, bro- 
ther of the learned and ingenious Thomas Astle, 
Esquire. It was the first time that my name had 
been mentioned in this way. No other honors have 
ever given me such pleasure. Perhaps you would 
like to know some of my companions at that 
time. I have the list in Dr. Johnson's own hand- 
writing. Among them are PufFendorf's ■ Introduc- 
tion to History,' Carte's ' History of England,' 



126 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

Clarendon's * History/ ■ The Duty of Man/ 
Watt's 'Improvement of the Mind/ Sherlock's 
1 Sermons/ Law's ' Serious Call/ Prideaux's 
' Connection/ Shuckford's ' Connection/ ' Na- 
ture Displayed.' I could hardly believe it when 
I found myself in that distinguished company, 
actually seated between Law's ' Serious Call ' and 
Sandys's « Travels.' This, I said, is fame." 

The "Compleat Angler" was almost over- 
come by his emotion. 

" Pardon me," he said ; " as one of my good 
friends has taken my seat, I will go down 
on the floor and see if I can't find some of the 
old crowd and arrange for a reunion. Ah ! I see 
Clarendon's ■ History.' He 's still extant, though 
he looks a little lonely. I see the ' Serious Call/ 
but where 's • The Duty of Man ' ? I wish I could 
come across Sandys's 'Travels.' And here, last and 
not least on Dr. Johnson's list, are ' Some Com- 
mentaries on the Bible.' I wish I could remember 
which they were. I wonder if I shall recognize 
them. There is such a strong family resemblance 
among commentaries. I am afraid I should not 
know ' Nature Displayed/ though I have a vague 



THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 127 

recollection that he was a great swell in his 
day." 

At last they were all seated. 

"Rather a tight squeeze," said Plutarch's 
" Lives." 

"Yes," said Bacon's "Essays," "reading maketh 
a full man." 

"Where's Shakespeare's Works?" inquired 
Marlowe's " Dr. Faustus." 

"You may search me," said Bacon's "Es- 
says." 

They were so pleasant and cheery that the Old 
Librarian was impelled to go about and seek out 
his own cronies and bring them together in some 
little space. They were good friends, whom he 
was always happy to meet. It was only when 
he got them together that he was aware what 
a miscellaneous collection they were. The only 
thing which they had in common was his lik- 
ing for them, but this it proved was a sufficient 
bond. 

It was quite late when a party of gay young 
volumes of fashion who had been attending a 
coming-out party of one of their number, passed 



128 THE CONVENTION OF BOOKS 

through the corridors. As they looked into a tiny 
room they saw the Old Librarian seated in the 
middle of a circle of cheerful old volumes. They 
were singing, — 

€( Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And the days of auld lang syne ?" 

" I wonder," said the youngest of the party, 
" whether any of us will ever give so much plea- 
sure." 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 



" T HAD as lief be a Brownist as a politician," 
A said bibulous Sir Andrew Ague-cheek. Sir 
Andrew expressed the sentiment of his class. Since 
the time when a little band of Brownists sailed 
away to Massachusetts Bay, the sect has come 
into better repute, but " politician" is still used as a 
term of disparagement. And curiously enough, it 
is never so frequently used in this way as among 
the descendants of those Brownists who in the 
cabin of the Mayflower organized themselves into 
a " body politic." 

European observers continually express sur- 
prise at the American attitude toward politics. In 
England, politics is the national sport. People 
follow each move with eager interest, and discuss 
the idiosyncrasies of the players. The debates in 
Parliament, with the thrust and counterthrust of 
keen wit, furnish entertainment for the kingdom. 
It is preeminently a gentleman's game, and suc- 
cess gives real distinction. 



i 3 o IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

In America we do not exhibit such a sports- 
manlike spirit. We take our political pleasures 
sadly. The average American citizen admits that 
politicians need watching, but it does not occur 
to him that it is as interesting to watch them as 
to watch a football game. There is a sinister sug- 
gestion in the phrase "to play politics." 

There are several reasons for this lack of ap- 
preciation. For one thing, the rules which we have 
adopted make the game itself less interesting to 
the spectator than it is in some other countries. 
In the British Parliament a crisis may come at 
any time. An alert opposition is always waiting 
for a chance to turn the government out. A mis- 
take has results that are immediate. There is a 
spectacular appeal to the country. In Washing- 
ton a majority party may make the most stupid 
blunder, and nothing happens except that it goes 
on becoming more stupid. When the people 
come to the conclusion that it is in a permanently 
comatose condition, they decently remove it from 
its sphere of non-action. 

The territorial magnitude of the United States 
makes it difficult to focus attention on any one 
place. In a compact country where the newspapers 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 131 

of the capital reach every part on the same day, 
it is easy to become acquainted with all the prin- 
cipal contestants. The spectators have an unre- 
stricted view of the field. But it is hard to interest 
the people of Maine and the people of Idaho in 
the same persons or policies. It takes an appre- 
ciable length of time for a wave of public opinion 
to cross the continent. The "favorite son " of one 
state may have all the virtues necessary for a na- 
tional hero, but it is a task of some magnitude 
and difficulty to advertise his existence to forty 
or forty-five oblivious commonwealths, especially 
if their attention is distracted by favorite sons of 
their own. 

All this is but to say that the way of the poli- 
tician is hard, but beyond this is the fact that his 
calling is not highly esteemed. A machine used 
in mixing cement is advertised as "The Mixer 
that makes money." The ordinary American would 
accept this as an adequate definition of a poli- 
tician. 

One learns after a while not to quarrel with the 
Dictionary. If a word falls into bad habits of 
thought and takes up wicked associations, it is 
usually impossible to reform it. There, for exam- 



i 3 2 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

pie, is the word " villain." It originally indicated 
a farm laborer. Poor fellow, he had a hard time 
and was more sinned against than sinning. But 
the gentry who sinned against him had more in- 
fluence than he in making the language. Their 
grumblings against his shortcomings have been 
incorporated into English speech, and now we 
think of a villain as a very bad character — indeed 
one of the worst. My blood boils — philologically 
considered — when I think of the bundle of pre- 
judices bound up in this single word. But what 
can I do about it? If at a meeting for the Uplift 
of Country Life I were to express my sympathy 
with all villains, and declare that I would like to 
return to the soil and do the work of a villain, I 
am sure my remarks would be misconstrued. If 
my speech were reported, I should lose member- 
ship in the Grange. 

In this case we let the unfortunate word go, 
because we have another to describe the agricul- 
tural sons of toil. We can talk of "churls" and 
"villains" without any indignity to labor. The 
history of such words is instructive. First the 
word is descriptive of a class ; then it becomes a 
term of reproach for that class; then the class 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 133 

emerges from the shadow of reproach and the 
word is left hanging in mid-air. It is a garment 
of dispraise left for evil-doers in general. 

We might leave the word "politician" to be 
used in the bad sense if we had another which we 
might use in a good sense. 

The shifty, self-seeking politician has always 
been a well-known character. He stands in the 
same relation to serious politics that the shyster 
does to the profession of law, or the quack to 
medicine. Every army has its camp-followers, 
every living body its parasites. But in this case 
the lower has not only usurped the name of the 
higher, but has also obscured its function. The 
term "politician" has been handed over to the 
political quack, and we have no name left by 
which to designate the regular practitioner. It is as 
if we had only one name for all who do business 
on the great waters, and were unable to discrimi- 
nate between the merchant and the pirate. 

We make an attempt to disguise our verbal 
poverty by speaking highly of the impeccable 
person whom we call a " statesman." But this lip- 
service is hollow. If you were to ask for a list of 
contemporary statesmen, you would be told that 



i 3 4 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

your inquiry was premature. The statesman is an 
historical character. His virtues are associated 
with obituaries. Moreover, the conception of a 
statesman does not include that which is funda- 
mental to the politician, namely, the ability to 
get himself elected. 

We have borrowed from the Romans the term 
" candidate," or white-robed one. The Roman citi- 
zen announced his willingness to serve the Re- 
public in an official position by appearing in a 
loose white toga. It was white to symbolize the 
candor of his nature, and was worn loose so that 
he might more easily display his scars. Our politi- 
cal prudery makes us shrink from the idea of open 
candidacy. The demure statesman of the popular 
imagination is supposed to act strictly on the prin- 
ciple that the office must seek the man. But we 
should hardly call one a politician who was not 
willing to meet the office at least halfway. He 
would say, "My dear Office, I hear that you are 
seeking a Man. It is a pleasant coincidence, for 
here I am." 

Milton ventured to use the word "politicaster" 
to indicate the person who stands to the real poli- 
tician in the same relation that the poetaster does 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 135 

to the poet. He is one of the large and ambitious 
family of the Would-Be's. He imitates what he 
is incapable of understanding. Let us adopt the 
term politicaster, and then enjoy the experience 
of expressing our heartfelt admiration for the hon- 
orable and quick-witted gentlemen who bear with- 
out reproach the grand old name of politician ; a 
name " defamed by every charlatan, and soiled by 
all ignoble use." 

The politicaster shall be our scapegoat. We 
shall hurl at him all the familiar disparaging epi- 
thets, we shall put upon him all the shame of our 
cities and the disgraces of our legislatures, and 
send him into the wilderness. Then we may sit 
down and converse on the most interesting and 
important of all human affairs — politics — and 
on the men who choose politics as a lifework. 

But because the poor politicaster is a sinner, 
we need not disdain to learn from him something 
as to the nature of politics. The dullest poetaster 
who ever put pen to paper can tell us something 
about verse. He knows, for example, that the 
lines begin with capital letters, and that they end 
with a rhyme, unless it be blank verse. All this 
is, as Carlyle would say, " significant of much." It 



136 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

indicates the important fact that poetry is in some 
way or other different from prose. Many scientific 
teachers of literature never find this out; the poet- 
aster discovers it because he has been trying to 
make poetry, though he has hard luck. 

So the politicaster is trying to be a politician 
according to his lights. He discovers that politics 
is different from some other things, as for instance 
from a Sunday School. This discovery fills him 
with such glee that he never tires of proclaiming 
it. He also discovers that politics is different from 
a Nervine Institute. He assures you that he is 
not in politics for his health. He is able to see 
that politics may be differentiated from Jurispru- 
dence and Moral Science and many other excel- 
lent things. He learns that it may have an exist- 
ence that is independent of the sister arts of 
Grammar or Elocution. He knows that in order 
to have " influence " it is not necessary to thrill 
listening senates. Indeed, he has observed that, 
for the most part, senates do not listen. He re- 
solves to practice the industrial virtues. While 
the Scholar in Politics is delighting the intellec- 
tuals who do not frequent the polls, the humble 
politicaster "saws wood," "grinds axes," and 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 137 

"looks after his fences," and "rolls logs," and 
walks softly in " gum shoes." 

The Honorable George Washington Plunkett 
of Tammany Hall declared that he wished but 
one inscription to be placed upon his tombstone : 
"He seen his opportunity and he took it." Here 
you have the starting-point of all politics, good 
or bad. Opportunism is the protoplasm out of 
which all varieties are evolved. Politics consists 
not in making programmes, or in passing judg- 
ment on accomplished facts, but in seeing and 
seizing opportunities. Now, opportunities are 
kittle cattle. They do not stand around waiting 
to be taken home and brought up by hand. A 
man may be very honorable, and conscientious, 
and even erudite, and may never have seen an 
opportunity in his life. The politicaster is looking 
for small opportunities, — for such pickings and 
stealings as a careless public may leave for those 
of his kind. The great politician is looking for 
great opportunities. He knows that he can do 
nothing till they come, but he must be prepared 
to recognize them instantly, and to grasp them 
in the brief moment when they are within his 
reach. 



138 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

Said Abraham Lincoln, " I claim not to have 
controlled events, but confess that events have 
controlled me. Now at the end of three years' 
struggle the nation's condition is not what either 
party or any man desired or expected." 

There spoke not the dignified statesman of the 
academic tradition who moulds events as the 
sculptor moulds his clay. Lincoln spoke as a high- 
minded, quick-witted politician, dealing, as every 
politician must, with the unexpected. Events hap- 
pen. The politician happens along at the same 
time. Their encounter makes history. The man 
of science can prepare for his experiments in the 
laboratory. He can literally make experiments. 
Not so the politician. He cannot make an ex- 
periment, he is an experiment. And if he fails he 
is not sure that the public will care to make him 
again. 

" Life," said Marcus Aurelius, " is not so much 
like dancing as like wrestling." That is to say, the 
movements are not determined by music, but by 
the motions of an alert antagonist — it is catch as 
catch can. Abraham Lincoln and Marcus Aurelius 
and George Washington Plunk ett would agree 
that politics consists, not in the acceptance of 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 139 

abstract formulas, but in being quick to catch 
opportunities. The difference of opinion would 
come in the answer to the question, " Opportuni- 
ties for what ? " 

Matthew Arnold, writing of Man and Nature, 
says, — 

Know, man hath all which Nature hath, but more, 
And in that more lie all his hopes of good. 

One may say that the good politician has all 
that the politicaster has and more, and in that 
more lies all his hope of winning the lasting ad- 
miration of mankind ; but his high disinterested 
virtues must be built upon political virtues of the 
common sort. The politician must not be above 
his business. He must be " a good mixer," he must 
understand the meaning of loyalty to friends and 
comrades, he must have a shrewd sense of the 
difference between an accomplished fact and a 
work that it is desirable to accomplish, he must 
know the value and the limitation of organiza- 
tion, he must be sensitive to public opinion and 
must not confound it with the opinion of his own 
class. Dealing with human nature, he must know 
the strength of his materials, he must be quick- 
witted and patient and tolerant, and if he falls he 



i 4 o IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

must be able to pick himself up before other 
people know that he has fallen. 

The work necessary for obtaining influence 
which the politicaster does furtively, the man 
who takes politics seriously does with noble and 
engaging frankness. Even log-rolling may be 
redeemed from its vulgar implications. After all, 
the old-time merry-making of the frontier fur- 
nished the best symbol of political action in a 
democracy. All the settlers gathered in the clear- 
ings to do together what no one could do alone. 
" You help roll my logs and I will help roll yours." 
In this reciprocity in effort there was nothing un- 
worthy. It is only when the bargain is under- 
handed and cannot be proclaimed in the light of 
day, that it becomes dangerous. 

The good politician rolls his logs in public, 
and is not ashamed of his job. He needs the help 
of others, and he knows that others need his help. 
When a hundred honorable men come together, 
each with a purpose of his own, each must expect 
to yield something if he is to gain anything. It is 
likely that more than one good measure will be 
proposed, and if one is skillful, good measures 
may be made to help one another. Here, without 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 141 

any sacrifice of honor, is a wide field for good fel- 
lowship and tolerance. The austere, uncompro- 
mising patriot, whose mind is impenetrable when it 
is once made up, who is incapable of sympathiz- 
ing with other men's aspirations, and who insists 
on all or nothing, is an egotist who does great 
service when he happens to be right. Unfortu- 
nately it often happens that he is wrong, and then 
his private conscience must be overcome by the 
common sense of the crowd. 

The politicaster is a mere time-server. The 
politician also aspires to serve the time, but in 
more manly fashion. He must meditate long on 
the third chapter of Ecclesiastes : " To every thing 
there is a season, and a time to every purpose 
under the heaven : . . . a time to plant, and a 
time to pluck up that which is planted; ... a 
time to break down, and a time to build up ; . . . 
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather 
stones together ; . . . a time to keep silence, and 
a time to speak ; a time to love, and a time to 
hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." 

The politician's problem is to know when these 
times come around. There is no one to help him. 
He must be his own alarm-clock. It is of the na- 



142 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

ture of his calling that his duty is unpredictable. 
His conscience can keep no regular office-hours. 
It must be prepared at any moment for a hurry 
call. It must be "to true occasion true." 

But what is the occasion? Does it demand 
boldness or moderation? Should he go slowly or 
with decisive swiftness ? His political sagacity is 
tested by his dealings with facts which he cannot 
fully understand. It is not a written examination 
to which he is subjected when he has ample leisure 
to present his matured thought. He must be able 
to read the signs of the times at sight. 

One reason why we are likely to speak slight- 
ingly of the ethics of the politician is that he can 
never exhibit his good qualities systematically. 
Benjamin Franklin tells us how he developed his 
character by choosing thirteen virtues, and, for con- 
venience in book-keeping, practicing only one at 
a time. By giving a week to each virtue, he was 
able to go through a course complete in thirteen 
weeks, and four courses in a year. 

Franklin's method seems more adapted to his 
earlier life as a tradesman than to his later career 
as a politician. The politician cannot arrange his 
moral stock-in-trade in an orderly fashion, and 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 143 

have a special bargain-day for each virtue. When 
the Occasion demands bold action, it will hardly 
do to ask it to call again, as this week is devoted 
to Caution and General Benevolence. 

That formal consistency which is so much ad- 
mired in good society is not for him. A member 
of Parliament solemnly declared to the House, 
" I take my stand on progress." Whereupon Dis- 
raeli remarked, " It occurs to me that progress is 
a somewhat slippery thing to take one's stand on." 
The fact is that under such circumstances a digni- 
fied stand is hardly possible ; the best one can do 
is to keep moving. 

The politician must expect to be misunderstood 
by those who do not deal with his large and com- 
plicated problems. His moral courage is tested 
by the way in which he meets the criticism of 
those who should be his friends, but who unfortu- 
nately are not. Cardinal Newman wrote, — 

Time was I shrank from what was right 
From fear of what was wrong. 

He tells us how at last he cast aside that " finer 
sense " and that " sorer shame " because he learned 
that "such dread of sin was indolence." 



144 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

It is a lesson that the high-minded politician 
learns. There is a moral indolence which mani- 
fests itself in dread of sin and of any personal con- 
tact with sinners. When any radical measure of 
reform is proposed, the reformer must be prepared 
to meet, not only the opposition of those whose 
selfish interests have been disturbed, but the op- 
position of good people who have been made 
uncomfortable by his revelations of unwelcome 
truth. 

When he has overcome this twofold opposi- 
tion and has begun constructive work, he will 
meet the criticism of the pure idealists, who, see- 
ing that he has done so much, now demand of 
him an impossible perfection. 

I have always sympathized with Hercules. 
After each labor he would come home tired, but 
feeling that he had done a creditable day's work. 
Being human, — or at least half-human, — Her- 
cules would wait for a bit of appreciation. At last 
he would say modestly, — 

" I wrestled to-day with the Nemean lion and I 
rather think I got the best of him." 

44 That 's nothing," would be the chilly answer. 
" It is a mere temporizing with evil. While you 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 145 

are about it why don't you slay the Lernean 
hydra ? A lion is a mere detail, the hydra is the 
thing." 

When he had come back from cleansing the 
Augean stables, he would be reminded that he 
had n't seized the girdle of the Queen of the Ama- 
zons, or brought the golden apples from the Gar- 
den of the Hesperides, or brought up Cerberus 
from Hades. He probably was afraid of the dog. 

Such twitting on facts must be expected by 
every one who leaves the " still air " of delightful 
studies "to plunge into a sea of noises and hoarse 
disputes." The politician deals confessedly with 
the Expedient. Now, it is the fate of the Expedi- 
ent to be brought always into comparison with 
the Best. Indeed, the Expedient is a poor rela- 
tion of the Best, — it is the Best Possible under 
the Circumstances. It is a superlative that has 
gone into business and must work for its living. 
It has to be a good manager in order to get along 
at all; and its rich relatives, the Absolute Bests of 
Utopia Centre, are always blaming it because it 
does not get on faster. 

Because the politician is concerned with ques- 
tions of expediency, it does not follow that his 



i 4 6 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

morality is less high than that of his critics. It 
only means that his moral problems are more com- 
plicated than theirs. He has not merely to satisfy 
his personal conscience, but to appeal to the con- 
sciences of those whose cooperation is necessary 
for any large undertaking. In every decision he 
has to consider the actual alternative, and assume 
responsibility for results. He has in mind, not a 
single circumstance, but always a train of circum- 
stances. 

As there is preventive medicine, so there is 
preventive politics. It deals with evils before they 
have time to develop. It treats causes rather than 
symptoms. The practitioner of preventive politics 
is looked upon with distrust by those of the old 
school. They treat the ills of yesterday according 
to well-known formulas, but it seems to them 
visionary to attempt to forestall the ills of to- 
morrow. 

Because of its complexity, politics has often 
been treated as a black art. Indeed, its ways have 
at many times been devious and dark. But, like 
all other arts, its general trend is toward simpli- 
city. The modern Boss, who prides himself on his 
Machiavellian craft, and who seeks to accom- 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 147 

plish results by indirection, is a quaint survival 
of a former order of things. His old-fashioned 
methods are those which were highly successful 
in the days before compulsory education and the 
daily newspaper and the telegraph and the tele- 
phone enabled the people to have that familiarity 
with their bosses which breeds contempt. 

Machiavelli based his statecraft on the assump- 
tion that deceit deceives. He informed his prince 
that it was necessary to cultivate the good-will of 
his people, for on this his power ultimately de- 
pended. Now, the people demanded of their rulers 
fidelity, friendship, humanity, and religion. Said 
the political adviser, " It is unnecessary for a prince 
to have all these good qualities which I have 
enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to 
have them." He goes on to say that it would be 
a decided advantage not to have qualities which 
one should appear to have, as it would leave much 
greater freedom of action. 

The art of politics as thus expounded is sim- 
plicity itself. It is to tell lies in such a manner as 
not to get found out till the lies have had time 
to do their work. Of course, a lie has its natural 
enemies who will eventually get the better of it; 



148 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

but if it has a sufficient start it will accomplish 
its purpose. 

It will be seen that this method of statecraft 
depends for its success on a time-allowance. 
There must be a sufficient interval between the 
utterance of the political lie and its refutation. A 
lie must get itself believed by its victims for a 
long enough time to allow them to act upon it. 
Otherwise it is " a vain thing for safety." 

Up to comparatively recent times these condi- 
tions existed. It might be months after an event 
happened before it was known to any but a little 
circle of the initiated. Under such conditions the 
arts of concealment flourished. 

Among the English gentlemen of the seven- 
teenth century there was none of nobler disposi- 
tion than Sir Henry Wotton. He wrote with 
perfect sincerity, — 

How happy is he born or taught 
Who serveth not another's will, 
Whose armor is his honest thought, 
And simple truth his utmost skill. 

But Sir Henry Wotton was also an accomplished 
diplomat, and on his way to Venice as ambassador 
of James I he gave his famous definition, " An 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 149 

ambassador is an honest gentleman who lies abroad 
for the good of his country." 

Modern improvements in the means for the 
diffusion of knowledge have not brought about 
the millennium, but they have reduced the old 
statecraft to a condition of inglorious futility. 
"The fine Italian hand" is now seen only in pea- 
nut politics. When a falsehood can be contra- 
dicted as soon as it is uttered, it has no longer 
sufficient capital on which to do a large business. 
The practical politician will ask, " Why not tell 
the truth in the first place ? " 

Purists are always scolding because so many 
persons misuse the verb " transpire." We are re- 
minded that an event does not transpire when it 
happens, but only when it becomes known to the 
public. There was a time when this was a very 
important distinction, but nowadays we are in- 
clined to disregard it, because the two things are 
generally simultaneous. 

An illustration of the change that has taken 
place within a very few years may be seen in the 
history of the campaign lie, known in American 
politics as the " roorbach." The name first became 
current in 1844, when a mendacious statement, 



i 5 o IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

purporting to be taken from Roorbach's " Tour 
through the Western and Southern States," was 
published with the intent to destroy Mr. Polk's 
chances for the presidency. Under conditions 
then existing, it was thought safe to launch this 
falsehood two months before the election. By 
1880, when the Morey letter was sprung upon 
Garfield, the expectancy of life for the roorbach 
had been reduced to two weeks. At present the 
warning, "Look out for roorbachs" does not ap- 
pear till forty-eight hours before the voting be- 
gins. This alarming decrease in the longevity of 
the roorbach must convince even the most " as- 
tute" politicaster that it is a bad risk. 

Thanks to modern invention, the accomplished 
truth-teller is now more than a match for the most 
accomplished liar. There is an ever-widening field 
in which the honest man may show his utmost 
skill. But to win success in the field, he must deal 
with truth, not as a man of science, but as a poli- 
tician. It is not a thing to be analyzed, classified, 
and put on the shelf. He is on the lookout for a 
truth that will be effective, a solid chunk that he 
can use as a missile. The more obvious it is, the 
better. His business is to give it initial velocity. 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 151 

Modern democracy depends for its very exist- 
ence on publicity. This is its armor of light, by 
which it is protected from its insidious foes. But 
while we all agree to this in the abstract, yet there 
lingers with us the feeling that publicity is vulgar. 
James Russell Lowell, stanch believer as he was 
in an ideal democracy, yet confessed that he was 
" a born disciple of an elder time," and instinc- 
tively shrank from the — 

Self-maker frith the prying eyes, 
This creature disenchanted of respect 
By the New World's new fiend, Publicity, 
Whose testing thumb leaves everywhere its smutch. 

This scholarly fastidiousness must be overcome 
before we can do justice to those who do our 
greatest and most needed work. It is not to the 
disparagement of a public man to say that he en- 
joys the element in which he must work. A re- 
tiring disposition has a rare charm of its own, but 
it is not a political virtue. Everything must here 
be writ large, so that the wayfaring man, though 
a fool, may not err in regard to it. The revival 
hymn says, — 

Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, 

Dare to have a purpose true and dare to make it known. 



1 52 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

The private citizen may be content to have a pur- 
pose true ; a politician must meditate in the night- 
watches over the best way of making it known. 
This requires a good deal of moral advertising. 
Self-assertion is here necessary. Pushing is frowned 
upon in polite society, but in politics one who is 
not inclined to push is likely to yield to the pull. 
Especially is this quality of personal aggressive- 
ness needed when any advance movement is con- 
templated. 

Said John Morley, "Men are so engaged by 
the homely pressure of each day as it comes, and 
the natural solicitudes of common life are so in- 
stant, that a bad institution or a monstrous piece 
of misgovernment is always endured in patience 
for years after the remedy has been urged on pub- 
lic attention. No cure is considered with an ac- 
curate mind until the evil has become too sharp 
to be borne, or its whole force and might brought 
irresistibly before the world by its more ardent, 
penetrative, and indomitable spirits." 

That is but to say that a reformer with a genius 
for politics will sometimes deliberately resolve to 
do for a nation what otherwise could be done only 
by a sudden calamity too sharp to be borne. He 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 153 

determines to make himself unbearable. He ham- 
mers away at one point, and keeps himself before 
the public in a way that may well offend the 
sensibilities of the Anti-noise Society. 

Those who do not know what he is driving at 
naturally think of him as a robustious fellow who 
seeks " to split the ears of the groundlings," while 
he " makes the judicious grieve." But the analogy 
drawn from the theatre is misleading. He is not 
an actor seeking applause, he is a social engineer 
intent on developing power for a particular pur- 
pose. If the groundlings have the power, he di- 
rects his attention to them. As for the judicious, 
they will grieve anyway. They will get over it 
when they have time to see what it is all about. 

A leader must not be too modest to lead. He 
must have some way of apprising his followers of 
his whereabouts. This is not for the satisfaction 
of personal vanity, but to accomplish results. 

I can imagine Robin Hood saying politely to 
the Sheriff of Nottingham, "My Lord Sheriff, you 
must pardon me for blowing my own horn. I 
assure you that I did not do it to draw your atten- 
tion to myself. When I saw you riding through 
the forest, so well attended, my one desire was to 



i 5 4 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

be self-effacing. I would not wittingly have in- 
truded my poor presence upon such a gallant 
company. But since this was not to be, I should 
like to present some stout gentlemen of my ac- 
quaintance who are more worthy than I of your 
lordship's attention. Ah ! here they come skipping 
o'er the lea ! " 

In the higher ranges of politics, self-assertion 
— instead of implying egotism — indicates self- 
absorption in a great work. Cobden, when he 
was making a moral issue of the repeal of the 
Corn Laws, said, " The only way in which the 
soul of a great nation can be stirred is by appeal- 
ing to its sympathies with a true principle in its 
unalloyed simplicity. Nay, further, it is neces- 
sary for the concentration of a people's mind 
that an individual should be the incarnation of 
a principle." 

Here we come upon ground unknown to the 
politicaster. He who aspires to play politics in 
this heroic fashion must be above all paltry sub- 
terfuges. To incarnate a great popular principle, 
a man must have not only keen intelligence, but 
also a large heart and a vivid imagination. He 
must be a man of the people, and idealize the 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 155 

people. " Here is that which moves in magnifi- 
cent masses careless of particulars." 

He cannot understand it by putting " his ear to 
the ground." He must himself have a massive 
simplicity of character, and be moved by the same 
forces. He must be not only intellectually, but 
actually, a representative man. 

One who would represent a commonwealth 
must realize what a commonwealth is. Let us take 
Milton's conception of it as "a huge Christian 
personage, as compact of virtue as of body, the 
growth and stature of an honest man." It may be 
objected that this is an ideal, and that the actual 
commonwealth may be neither Christian nor 
compactly virtuous. Leaving out, then, that which 
is qualitative, let us fix our minds on that which 
is quantitative. A commonwealth may not be 
more virtuous than an individual, but it is cer- 
tainly bigger. If we conceive of it as a personage, 
we must think of it as a huge personage. It requires 
an effort of the imagination to comprehend it. A 
nation may commit great sins and be greatly pun- 
ished, but it should not be charged with petty 
larcenies. The querulous critic who scolds it as he 
would a spoiled child, has not learned the primer 
of politics. 



156 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

A commonwealth is not only big, but, at least 
in relation to its own citizens, it must be thought 
of as honest. This follows from its bigness. Dis- 
honesty is the attempt of a part to obtain what 
belongs to another part or to the whole. But it is 
hard to conceive of the whole as engaged in a 
deliberate robbery, for it has no one to rob but 
itself, and it must rob itself for its own benefit. 
The self-interest of a commonwealth is but inter- 
est in the common weal, and against this there is 
no law. 

We may think of a commonwealth as a huge 
and honest personage who means well, but who 
has never made himself fully articulate. He mani- 
fests his more permanent ideas in laws and cus- 
toms and social usages ; but in dealing with the 
events of the passing hour, he must employ in- 
terpreters. 

Like Nebuchadnezzar, he has his soothsayers, 
and Chaldeans, and magicians to interpret his 
dreams. They have long been with him, and are 
skilled in reading his habitual thoughts. But 
sometimes it happens that the huge personage 
has a new dream and has forgotten what it was. 
Then he calls his soothsayers, but the wise men 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 157 

only shake their heads. If he will kindly describe 
his dream they will tell him what it means. 
Which learned indecision makes the huge per- 
sonage very angry. So he seeks out some one who 
has dreams of his own, whose soul has been stirred 
by vague forebodings of impending change. 

Happy is the nation which in time of perplexity 
can find an interpreter. The old order, he says, 
changes; but if we act resolutely we may have 
part in the new order. It is a time when quick 
intelligence and courage point out the only safe 
courses. 

Think not that Prudence dwells in dark abodes; 
She scans the future with the eye of gods. 

The hero in politics is one who has convinced 
the people that he possesses this higher prudence. 
They recognize him when he separates himself 
from the crowd of petty politicians, by sacrificing 
a small advantage that he may seize a large op- 
portunity. He is the man they were looking for; 
they hail him leader, for he is the one who "all 
alone stands hugely politic." The master-strokes 
of policy have been made by such men. With 
popular sentiment behind them, they have been 
able to overturn the best-laid plans of those who 



158 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

have grown gray in the work of political mani- 
pulation. 

But is not this hero-worship dangerous ? Yes, 
all heroic exaltation is dangerous, but the danger 
is not to the hero-worshipers, but to the hero. 

Those who are tremulous about the fate of the 
Republic have a distressing notion that free na- 
tions have often perished because some great citi- 
zen has been too much admired and trusted. The 
idea is that an innocent nation may be betrayed 
by its affections. It loves not wisely but too well. 
It trusts the fond professions of a friend of the 
people who betrays the confidence that he has 
gained, and straightway turns tyrant. 

One hates to disturb such a pretty sentimental 
theory; but I have to confess to a great skepticism 
when I hear this lover's complaint. Nations " have 
died and worms have eaten them, but not for 
love." Nations have frequently tired of freedom 
and yielded themselves to tyrants, but not because 
of guileless trust in false professions. The tyrants 
did not gain their power by first inspiring the 
people with a love of liberty, and then suddenly 
using that power to enslave them. 

Of course, we must expect to hear of Csesar 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 159 

and Cromwell and Napoleon; they are always 
with us when we are asked to view with alarm 
any one whom the people delight to honor. But 
when we look more closely at these formidable 
personages, we find a singular consistency in their 
characters and careers. They deceived nobody, 
least of all their contemporaries. Had Cato crossed 
the Rubicon, or Hampden driven out the Parlia- 
ment, or Mirabeau proclaimed himself Emperor, 
we might have a clear case of breach of promise. 
But Caesar and Cromwell and Napoleon did what 
might reasonably have been expected. In each 
case the hour had struck when the Man of the 
Hour arrived to do the work which awaited. 
People at the time were looking for just such a 
man as he. 

But who believes that Washington, had he 
been capable of yielding to a foolish ambition, 
could have used the love and reverence of his 
countrymen to make him king? The proverbial 
complaint of the ingratitude of republics is an in- 
dication that popular enthusiasm is not primarily 
for a person but for a cause. So long as the per- 
son and the cause are associated, they share alike 
in the loyalty that has been awakened. But when 



160 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

they are disassociated, the person shrinks. The 
Irish people idolized Daniel O'Connell. But sup- 
pose at the height of his power over the affections 
of the people O'Connell had renounced the cause 
of Ireland. Instantly the figure of the Liberator 
would have vanished into thin air. The "great" 
man who treats his greatness as if it were a private 
possession is speedily disillusioned by a change of 
fortune. His grandiose schemes come to naught, 
for, in Milton's sonorous phrase, he " has rambled 
in the huge topography of his own vain thoughts." 

The fact is that there is no device for a refer- 
endum that can express more accurately the exact 
shadings of the popular will than the admiration 
for a great man. It is effective only so long as it 
is spontaneous. It is a popular initiative that is 
always safeguarded by the possibility of an im- 
mediate recall. 

Here is a man after the people's own heart. He 
represents qualities which they share. He has won 
their confidence by doing in a conspicuous man- 
ner work which they believe ought to be done. 
Their power is behind him. But what if, once in 
the Seat of the Mighty, he decides to use his 
power for ends that they do not approve? All 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 161 

that we can say is that he has made a political 
blunder. He has forgotten that in a democracy 
the Seat of the Mighty is the Siege Perilous. The 
man through whose personality is expressed the 
aspiration of a great people is no longer his own 
master. He must be what people think he is, or 
he is undone. The Lost Leader is deemed a trai- 
tor, and yet his only treason is to the ideal which 
he has created in the minds of others. 

To achieve a great reputation is to have an in- 
crease of power, but it is power moving only in 
one direction. The great man is swept along in 
the atmospheric currents of popular expectation. 
No one has yet invented a dirigible reputation. 

When William Pitt accepted a peerage, he did 
only the usual thing. But he had forgotten the 
secret of his own power. Pitt was the Great Com- 
moner. Amid the welter of sordid interests he 
stood as the symbol of proud incorruptibility. 
When he became Lord Chatham, men seemed 
to hear the mocking cry of aristocratic placemen, 
" He hath become one of us." 

Webster, in his speech of the 7th of March, 
1850, made a plea for a compromise to save the 
Union, which was looked uponby his fellow sen- 



1 62 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

ators as thoroughly statesmanlike. But from thou- 
sands of his followers who had most idealized 
him, and to whom he had been almost a demi- 
god, came the bitter cry, "Ichabod, the glory 
hath departed." 

So far from its being an easy thing for a popu- 
lar politician to use his popularity according to 
his own wish, it is difficult to direct it in any way 
whatever. Political strategy differs from military 
strategy in that there can be no concealment in 
regard to the objective. If the leader conceals his 
intentions, his followers become suspicious and 
desert him. The strategic retreat or the change of 
base is, therefore, a hazardous operation. Fabius, 
had he been in politics instead of war, would have 
found it well-nigh impossible to keep his forces 
together. 

The skill of a great politician consists not in 
the ability to outwit his opponents, but in his 
ability to keep in check his more impetuous par- 
tisans without cooling their moral ardor. He must 
insist on doing one thing at a time, and yet so 
win their confidence that they shall believe that 
when that thing has been done he may be de- 
pended upon to take with equal courage the next 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 163 

necessary step. When he acts with prudence, he 
must see to it that his prudence is not mistaken 
for cowardice or sloth. 

It was in his power of sun-clear exposition that 
Lincoln was preeminent. In his letter to Horace 
Greeley in 1862 he expounded his principles of 
political expediency in a way that could be " un- 
derstanded of the people." " My paramount ob- 
ject in this struggle is to save the Union, and it 
is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could 
save the Union without freeing any slave, I would 
do it. If I could save it by freeing all the slaves, 
I would do it ; and if I could save it by freeing 
some and leaving others alone, I would also do 
that. What I do about Slavery and the colored 
race, I do because I believe it helps to save this 
Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I 
do not believe it would help to save the Union. 
I shall do less whenever I believe that what I am 
doing hurts the cause. I shall do more whenever 
I believe that doing more will help the cause. I 
shall try to correct errors when shown to be er- 
rors : and I shall adopt new views so fast as they 
shall appear to be true views. I have here stated 
my purpose according to my view of official duty, 



1 64 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed 
personal wish that all men everywhere could be 
free." 

Here two things are made perfectly clear, the 
personal wish and the official duty. Abraham 
Lincoln, the man, wished every man everywhere 
to be free : let friend and foe alike be aware of 
this. But Abraham Lincoln, President of the 
United States, had a task to which everything 
else must be subordinated. His sworn duty was 
to save the Union, and no ulterior desire could 
be allowed to interfere with that. To save the 
Union he needed the help of those who believed 
in the immediate abolition of slavery, and he 
needed the help of those who did not so believe. 
And he was able to receive the help of both, be- 
cause he took both into his confidence. 

The tragic blunders of the era of reconstruction 
came from the lack of such magnanimous politics. 
Lincoln would have made no mystery of the duty 
of the day, and he would have made it clear that 
it was a new day. He would have called upon 
the men of the South and the men of the North 
to lay aside their animosities as things irrelevant, 
in order together to save their common country 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 165 

from new perils. It took the ordinary politician 
a quarter of a century to see what the great poli- 
tician could see in an instant, — that the Civil 
War was over. What miseries were endured, and 
what injustices were done, because well-intentioned 
leaders lacked the quality of moral quick-witted- 
ness! 

If war is the game of kings, politics is the game 
of free peoples. There is no form of human ac- 
tivity which calls into play so many qualities at 
once, or which demands the constant exercise of 
such energetic virtue. 

"Like a poet hidden in the light of thought," 
the politician's private conscience is hidden in the 
light of his public duty. He is himself a poet 
— a maker. He works not through words, but 
through the impulses and convictions of other 
men. His materials are the most ordinary — the 
events of the passing day, and the crude averages 
of unselected humanity. He takes them as they 
come, and remoulds them nearer to the heart's 
desire. Out of the conflicting aims of the multi- 
tudes of individuals, he creates the harmonies of 
concerted action. 

To some the praise of politicians may seem 



1 66 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

but the glorification of worldly success. " But 
what," they ask, " about the failures ? The world 
acclaims the hero who marches to triumph at the 
head of a great people. But what of one who is 
far in advance of his own time, the lonely cham- 
pion of unpopular truth, who dies unrecognized 
by the world he serves ? " 

The answer must be that there are good and 
great men whom we praise for other qualities than 
those of the politician. Their high function it is 
to proclaim ideas that are not affected by the 
changing circumstances of their own day. They 
belong to the ages, and not to a single generation. 
Their fame is dateless. 

But, on the other hand, we must recognize the 
fact that one may be in advance of his age and 
yet closely related to it, as an effective politician. 
The politician aims at success, but it is not neces- 
sary that the success should be personal. It is the 
final issue of the struggle which must be kept in 
mind. 

The politician is quick to seize an opportunity, 
but it may be only the opportunity to make a be- 
ginning in a work so vast that it cannot be com- 
pleted in his own lifetime. He may deliberately 



IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 167 

ally himself to the party of the future, and labor 
to-day for results that cannot appear till the day 
after to-morrow. He may see that the surest way to 
the attainment of his ultimate purpose is through 
the ruins of his own fortunes, and he may choose 
to take that way. 

In all this he is still within the range of prac- 
tical politics, and is concerned with the adapta- 
tion of means to ends. He is dealing with the 
issues not of a day, but of a century. It is not 
safe to say that a politician has failed till the re- 
turns are all in. 

As the true sequence of events becomes plain, 
History revises our judgments in regard to politi- 
cal sagacity. We begin to see who were the lead- 
ers, and who were the blindly led. 

There have been martyrs who in the hour of 
their agony have been far-seeing politicians. They 
have been sustained not so much by a beatific 
vision as by their clear foresight of the public 
consequences of the blunder of their adversaries. 
They have calculated the force of the revulsion 
of feeling that was sure to follow an act of cruel 
injustice. It was in this mood that heroic Hugh 
Latimer watched the fagots that were being piled 



168 IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS 

around him. " Be of good comfort, Master Rid- 
ley, and play the man: we shall this day light 
such a candle by God's grace in England, as I 
trust shall never be put out." 

Latimer's words were justified by the events. 
Those martyr fires, manfully endured, determined 
the policy of the nation. 

Here good politics and good ethics are one. 
No cause has ever triumphed through clever 
management alone. There is always need for the 
leader, who, without regard to what may happen 
to himself, is resolved to play the man. 



MY MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

WITH SOME REMARKS ON LIKING ONE'S JOB 



AMONG the most persistent of my early 
dreams was that of being a missionary. I 
wanted to be a missionary before it occurred to 
me that I had any particular doctrine to com- 
municate or manner of life to recommend. Indeed 
I now perceive that my call was more of Nature 
than of Grace. 

I wanted to be a missionary because I longed 
to go on missionary journeys. The call of the 
wild, the lure of the unknown, the fascination of 
terrestrial mystery takes many forms. It is all a 
part of the romance of Geography, which has sur- 
vived even the invention of maps. 

When one is eleven and going on twelve, there 
comes a great longing to go to the Antipodes, to 
visit No Man's Land, to wander through forsaken 
cities, to climb lonely towers, and to look out 
through — 



170 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

magic casements opening on the foam 
Of perilous seas. 

In different generations this demand has been 
variously met. The institutions of civilization, be- 
sides their primary objects, have had the secondary 
function of satisfying the youthful desire to go 
into a far country, a desire not of the Prodigal 
alone. Patriotism, Religion, Commerce, each has 
its finger-post pointing to the unknown. 

There lies the port, the vessel puffs her sail, 
There gloom the dark, broad seas. 

To the boy of Tyre and Sidon, commerce, with 
the early morning dew of piracy yet upon it, of- 
fered a sufficient lure. To go into trade did not 
mean to clerk in a dry-goods store. It meant to 
sail away over the blue Midland waters to "the 
cloudy cliffs down which the Iberians come." 

The Roman youth, when he would visit Par- 
thia and Numidia and Caledonia, had the way 
made easy for him. All he had to do was to join 
the legions, and then the path of duty and the 
path of glory coincided. There was the promise 
of many a fine trip. 

In the Middle Ages there were Crusades and 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 171 

pilgrimages to holy shrines, — capital ways of see- 
ing the world. Chaucer's knight had " ridden as 
well in Christendom as Hethenesse." Or if one 
could not be a knight-errant he could be a saint- 
errant. He could journey far with never a penny 
to pay. 

But if one lived on Paint Creek in Southern 
Ohio, the access to the world of romance was 
more difficult. It seemed a long way from Paint 
Creek to the lands old in story. It was a far cry to 

Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can, 
And Samarchand by Oxus, Temir's throne, 
To Agra and Lahor of great Mogul, 
To Paquin of Sinian Kings and thence 
Down to the golden Chersonese, or where 
The Persian in Ectaban sate, or since 
In Hispahan, or where the Russian Ksar 
In Mosco, or the Sultan in Bizance. 

So far as one's chances of seeing these places 
are concerned, they might as well be in another 
world. 

But out of the distant wonderlands one traveler 
returned. He was a missionary. He had sailed 
strange seas, he had seen famous cities, and had 
got back safely to Ohio. He had crossed deserts 



1 72 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

in caravans, and had endured perils of robbers. I 
resolved to be a missionary. 

The world was all before me where to choose 
my place of work. There were islands in the 
South Seas still awaiting the spiritual explorer. 
Moffat and Livingstone had found Africa inter- 
esting. There were still places in it where an en- 
terprising missionary could get lost, and to find 
him would be an exciting adventure. 

But at last I settled down to the firm convic- 
tion that I was destined to be a missionary in 
Persia. Other fields might clamor for my services, 
but Persia was my first love, and to that I would 
be faithful. The very names of its cities and its 
streams were music to my ears. They awakened 
what I felt was best in my nature. It was in con- 
nection with them that I first experienced the 
luxury of doing good. How I came to choose 
Persia for my field of labor is clearer to me now 
than it was at the time. There are many influences 
which affect us, but the influence of the imagina- 
tion, which is the strongest of all, is the one we 
least recognize. It forms the atmosphere that we 
breathe and that sustains us when we know it 
not. 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 173 

In looking back I perceive that the period 
when I determined to be a missionary to Persia 
coincided with that in which my chief literary 
enthusiasm was Thomas Moore's "Lalla Rookh." 

I do not think that I seriously considered that 
the juvenile delight in the melodies of " Lalla 
Rookh" was in itself a sufficient missionary 
motive. But having resolved to be a missionary 
somewhere, this determined the place. The mis- 
sionary reports were rather dry reading, and with 
all their fullness of detail did not give me the in- 
formation which I most needed. " Lalla Rookh " 
was the book which most interested me. It di- 
rected my newly awakened zeal into the right 
channel. It showed me the paths of pleasantness 
in which I would gladly walk. 

How could it be otherwise ? Did not my heart 
kindle at the opening lines : — 

In that delightful Province of the Sun, 
The first of Persian lands he shines upon, 
Where all the loveliest children of his beam, 
Flow' rets and fruits, blush over every stream. 

Was not that delightful Province of the Sun 
good missionary ground ? Should I reject a call 
to such a sphere of usefulness simply because it 



i 7 4 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

was not unmixed with pleasure? Duty might 
some time call me to preach on the banks of 
that mysterious river which — 

from its spring 
In the Dark Mountains swiftly wandering, 
Enriched by every pilgrim brook that shines 
With relics from Bucharia's ruby mines, 
And lending to the Caspian half its strength 
In the cool Lake of Eagles sinks at length. 

I should be prepared for such a call Nor should 
I shrink if in the course of my work I should be 
summoned to — 

vast illuminated halls 
Silent and bright, where nothing but the falls 
Of fragrant waters gushing with cool sound 
From many a jasper fount is heard around. 

And I should find my way through — 

A maze of light and loveliness, 

Where the way leads o'er tessellated floors 

Of mats of Cairo, through long corridors 

Where ranged in cassolets and silver urns 

Sweet wood of aloes or of sandal burns, 

And spicy rods, such as illume at night 

The bowers of Thibet, send forth odorous light. 

I was unaccustomed to such scenes and un- 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 175 

familiar with the etiquette involved, but doubt- 
less I should learn. In Persia one must do as the 
Persians do. 

And I could not forget that — 

There y s a bower of roses by Bendemeer's stream, 
And the nightingale sings round it all the day long. 

Now and then there would be a journey on 
the water. 

*T is moonlight over Oman's sea, 
Her banks of pearl and palmy isles 

Bask in the night-beam beauteously, 
And her blue waters sleep in smiles. 

I should not allow myself to become too nar- 
row. When my home work was well in hand, I 
should visit the neighboring regions. For — 

Who has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere 
With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave, 
Its temples, and grottoes, and fountains as clear 
As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave ? 

It might be found advisable to establish a sta- 
tion in Cashmere. 

The prose introduction and the copious notes 
gave much information which was useful in ar- 
ranging one's itinerary. In the heat of the day one 
could rest " under the shade of a banyan tree 



176 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

from which the view opened upon a glade cov- 
ered with antelopes," or in one of those hidden, 
embowered spots described by one from the Isles 
of the West as " places of melancholy, delight, 
and safety, where all the company around was 
wild peacocks and turtle-doves." Such spots 
would be excellent places for the writing of ser- 
mons. In this way one could get just the kind of 
illustrations that the Persians would appreciate. 
And the flowers of rhetoric would all be perfectly 
natural. 

To be commissioned by the Board to a station 
in Persia was certainly the very romance of mis- 
sionarying. 

" Lalla Rookh," and behind that the " Arabian 
Nights," predisposed my mind to regard this field 
favorably. 

No journey would be too long. I would will- 
ingly pass on a swift: dromedary along the mys- 
terious borderlands where — 

Fresh smell the shores of Araby. 

I would then plunge boldly into the interior 
and follow the caravan route — 

from the banks of Bendemeer 
To the nut-groves of Samarchand. 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 177 

Planning these missionary journeys was a pleas- 
ant way of doing one's duty. Wordsworth's ex- 
cursion through the vales of Westmoreland led 
him to feel how exquisitely the mind to the ex- 
ternal world is fitted, and how exquisitely too the 
external world is fitted to the mind. 

The same impressions came from my mission- 
ary excursions in Persia. There was a perfect 
adaptation of the environment to the mind. In- 
deed, the mind had it all its own way. Persia was 
exquisitely fitted to my conception of it. There 
was no contradiction of sinners. The sinners 
formed a picturesque background. Their presence 
harmonized with the scene. They were the tawny 
desert around my little spiritual oasis. 

My tastes were simple. All I required of Na- 
ture was what she could easily furnish : a desert, 
a palm tree, a little river, some roses and some 
nightingales. Then the congregation would seat 
itself and I would begin to expound my favorite 
text : " The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant 
places." Being like myself enthusiastic Persians, 
they would all agree to this. After we were in the 
right frame of mind we would proceed to a con- 
sideration of some of our sins which prevented us 



178 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

from fully enjoying these pleasant places. It would 
then be time for our frugal meal of dates. 

Even to this day I cannot read Emerson's 
" Saadi " without relapsing into the mood of my 
missionary life in Persia. 

Yet Saadi loved the race of men, — 

No churl, immured in cave or den; 

In bower and hall 

He wants them all, 

Nor can dispense 

With Persia for his audience. 

One does not feel like an intruder. For — 

Gladly round that golden lamp 
Sylvan deities encamp, 
And simple maids and noble youth 
Are welcome to the man of truth. 
Most welcome they who need him most, 
They feed the spring which they exhaust. 



But, critic, spare thy vanity, 
Nor show thy pompous parts, 
To vex with odious subtlety 
The cheerer of men's hearts. 

I pass through the grove of palms and find my 
way among the crowds of whirling dervishes 
without feeling the desire to trip any of them up, 
and come to where Saadi sits in the sun. 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 179 

It is no place for dogmatic controversy. Long 
ago the Muse had whispered to him, — 

Never, son of eastern morning, 
Follow falsehood, follow scorning. 
Denounce who will, who will deny, 
And pile the hills and scale the sky; 
Let theist, atheist, pantheist, 
Define and wrangle how they list, 
Fierce conserver, fierce destroyer, — 
Be thou joy-giver and enjoyer. 

To sit in the sun with Saadi and get this point 
of view would be worth a long missionary jour- 
ney. 

As time went on, the pictures of Lalla Rookh 
were retouched, but the original coloring was not 
obliterated. I preferred old-fashioned travelers 
who had emotions on the banks of the Tigris 
which were different from those that came on the 
banks of the Mississippi. There were periods 
when my missionary zeal grew weak, but when 
it returned it was always to Persia. This contin- 
ued even to the time when I entered the un- 
romantic purlieus of the Theological Seminary. 

Fuller, in his " Worthies of England," tells us 
that when Sir Thomas More published his " Uto- 



180 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

pia " " many at the reading thereof took it for the 
real truth," and " there were here among us sun- 
dry good men and learned divines very desirous 
to bring the people to the faith of Christ, whose 
manners they did like so well." 

It was the same motive which inspired these 
would-be missionaries to Utopia which inspired 
me. 

At last, feeling that I could no longer lead a 
double life, I called a family council and declared 
my intention of offering my services to the Board. 
I grew eloquent in praise of my chosen field, and 
of the people " whose manners I did like so well." 

There seemed an especial fitness in making 
some slight return to my adopted country from 
which I had already received so much pleasure. 

Then it was that my grandmother, whose tena- 
city of opinion was inherited from a line of Cov- 
enanting ancestors, registered her veto. "You 
must not go as missionary to Persia, for if you 
do the Persians will convert you." 

I do not think that my grandmother feared 
that I would become a Mohammedan, but she 
did fear that I might develop oriental traits, alien 
to the habit of mind of the Chillicothe Presby- 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 181 

tery. What I took to be a missionary call she 
looked upon as a kind of apostasy. Tried by the 
severe standards of disinterested virtue, I was 
found wanting. The call to Persia lacked the ele- 
ment of complete self-abnegation. To be sure, I 
was not attracted by the loaves and fishes, but 
deserts and nightingales and the enchantment of 
distance might be equally deceptive. 

So it turned out that when the time came, in- 
stead of going to Persia I went to Kansas. I found 
Kansas interesting also, though in a different way. 

ii 

I should not ask presumably busy people to 
listen to these shadowy recollections, were it not 
that they suggest some questions of practical im- 
portance. Was my grandmother right in think- 
ing that my pleasure in Persia was likely to be a 
detriment to my usefulness? Was I less likely to 
do good to the Persians because I thought well 
of them to begin with ? And would it have been 
a waste of time if, after a term of years, I had 
partly converted the Persians and the Persians 
had partly converted me? May there not be a 
profitable reciprocity in spiritual influence ? 



1 82 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

In attempting to answer such questions we 
encounter the prejudice which exists among the 
more moral and intellectual classes against mixed 
motives. We usually prefer to exhibit a virtue 
in as abstract and dehumanized a form as possi- 
ble. We strip it of any agreeable circumstances 
and accidents, and by a process of ethical analysis 
reduce it to its simplest terms. Because Virtue 
has often been mistaken for Pleasure, we insist 
that it shall not be seen in its company. There 
seems something especially meritorious in the 
more unpleasing manifestations of duty, as then 
we are free from any doubts as to its being the 
genuine article. If the duty happens not to be 
disagreeable, we try to make it appear so. Thus 
a patriotic citizen, being nominated for an office 
of dignity, is careful to inform his constituents 
that he accepts at the sacrifice of his personal de- 
sires, which are all for a strictly private life. 

In the Middle Ages some of the saints invented 
an ingenious device for reconciling politeness 
with asceticism. When they were invited to din- 
ner they ate what was set before them, but if the 
viands threatened to be delicious, they slyly 
sprinkled them with ashes. 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 183 

Biographers of missionaries, philanthropists, re- 
formers, and all kinds of altruists, seem to think 
it necessary to do something like this. They re- 
present their heroes as doing all sorts of disagree- 
able things which they do not want to do. They 
set up one single dignified motive, and severely 
eliminate all the little subsidiary motives that 
grow around it. The one virtue is a upas-tree, 
making a desert where it grows. Every effort is 
made to conceal the fact that the good deed has 
been done from mixed motives. Virtue must be 
presented in an austerely simple form without any 
pleasant embellishments. 

The " strong man rejoicing to run a race " is 
praised for his disinterested virtue. "Brave fellow, 
how noble he is in his self-forgetting zeal ! There 
he goes through all the heat and dust, when he 
might be here sitting in a rocking-chair." 

The sympathetic and tearful admirer would 
feel that you were attempting to pull his hero 
down from the high moral pedestal if you were 
to say that rocking in a chair was an acquired 
taste which the strong man does not as yet pos- 
sess. He prefers to run. He has an excess of ani- 
mal spirits which must be worked off some way. 



1 84 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

He rejoices to run, partly because he is alive, and 
partly because he has a worthy goal presented to 
him. 

So far as I have been able to observe, such 
mixed motives are the ones that take men fur- 
thest. Altruism is no exception to the general 
rule that a man does good work only when he 
likes his job. 

In private life, and in the pursuit of gain or 
reputation, people endure all sorts of hardships 
without incurring any particular sympathy. It is 
taken for granted that they like what they are 
doing. The football player does n't mind his in- 
cidental bruises. The fisherman rejoices in his 
tribulations, and no one thinks it strange. 

Why should not the altruist get the same 
sportsmanlike pleasure out of the incidents of his 
work? Because he must work hard with an un- 
certainty about the results, is no reason why he 
should not yield to all the allurements and fas- 
cinations which belong to the enterprise upon 
which he has entered. 

It happens that the capacity for enjoying him- 
self is one upon which his opportunity to do 
good to others depends. Human nature is so con- 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 185 

stituted that it demands that duty be mixed with 
pleasure. 

We cannot abide an "altruist who does not 
enjoy himself, and who has not a sportsmanlike 
spirit. We resent his attempt to monopolize 
brotherly kindness. If he be without imagination 
he will insist on working for us instead of with 
us. He will not admit us to a partnership in good 
works. He insists on doing all the self-sacrifice 
and have us take the ignominious part of passive 
recipients of his goodness. He confers a benefit 
on us with an air that says, " I have come to do 
you good. I have no selfish gratification in what 
I am doing for you. But a sense of duty has tri- 
umphed over my personal inclination." 

We detest him heartily, but for no other reason 
than that he is not enjoying himself while he is 
doing us a kindness. It is as if an anxious host 
should refuse to sit at the table with his guests. 
He likes to see them eat, but he won't eat with 
them. They are not likely to pardon this breach 
of hospitality. 

Reciprocity is the very essence of human in- 
tercourse, and only the churlish person fails to 
realize that there must be reciprocity in pleasure. 



1 86 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

You must not throw your cast-off pleasures to 
another as you would throw a bone to a dog. The 
dog is a generous creature and will accept the 
bone with no criticism of the unmannerly way in 
which it is offered. But kindness to persons is 
not so simple as kindness to animals. You must 
be kind to your neighbor in such a way as not to 
interfere with his plans for being kind to you. 

Altruism is a game two must play at, and it 
must be played cheerfully. You must not try to 
be Altruist all the time, you must take your turn 
being the Other. If it is your duty to make him 
happy, it is equally his duty to make you happy. 
You must give him the opportunity. If you have 
renounced the " miserable aims that end with 
self," it is praiseworthy in him to do the same. 
Encourage him to have worthy aims that end 
in you. 

It is wonderful how sensitive we all are in this 
respect. We refuse to be helped except by people 
who like to do it, and who profess to be having 
the time of their lives when assisting us. " We 
should be most happy to serve you if you will 
allow us." If they say it as if they meant it, we 
allow them to lend a hand; if we suspect them 



. MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 187 

of insincerity we respectfully decline their offer, 
— unless we are paupers, and then we don't care 
how they feel. 

This universal preference which all self-re- 
specting people have for being helped by cheerful 
friends, rather than by conscientious benefactors, 
is a great limitation to all philanthropic effort. 
Unless we heartily enjoy ourselves, other people 
will not allow us to improve their minds or their 
morals. 

The great helpers of mankind have been men 
who were shrewd enough to see this condition 
and frankly to accept it. They have turned their 
duty into pleasure, and then claimed for them- 
selves only the inalienable right to the pursuit 
of happiness. If in this pursuit they incidentally 
helped their neighbors, they hoped that this would 
not prejudice any one against them. 

Chaucer's Clerk of Oxenforde was a solemn- 
looking person, and not very congenial to the 
more full-blooded members of the company. But 
they doubtless thought better of him when they 
learned that "gladly wolde he lerne and gladly 
teche." After all, those old books were not his 
penance but his recreation. This made him more 



1 88 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

comprehensible to the stout miller and the hon- 
est ploughman. They liked him better because 
he had his little pleasures, though they were of a 
queer kind. 

A disciple came to Confucius and, with that 
admirable directness in asking questions charac- 
teristic of Chinamen, inquired, "Master, are you 
a sage?" Confucius answered, "No, I am not a 
sage, I am only one who learns without satiety, 
and who teaches without getting tired." 

In other words, he was a healthy-minded per- 
son who enjoyed his intellectual victuals and who 
liked to share them with his friends. He was 
naturally given to intellectual conviviality, and 
had been lucky enough to be able to indulge 
these tastes. 

Those who are not weary in well-doing are 
those who make the freest use of their natural 
aptitudes. They do not allow the conscience to 
be overburdened by doing all the work. It is 
" spelled " by some of the less austere faculties. 
The results are more satisfactory than if there had 
been no opportunity for moral relaxation. 

There was John Wesley. His " Journal," with 
its record of indefatigable labor, is one of the 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 189 

cheeriest books in the language. What a rare 
good time he had! When he was eighty-seven 
he could say, " I do not remember to have felt 
lowness of spirits for a quarter of an hour since 
I was born." For more than sixty years this in- 
defatigable pleasure-seeker had been doing as he 
pleased. Up every day in time to preach at five 
o'clock in the morning; then over the hills or 
through the pleasant lanes to preach again at 
about the time lazy citizens were ready for break- 
fast ; off again, on horseback or by chaise or in a 
lumbering stage-coach, for more preaching to vast 
crowds of sinners — just the kind of sinners he 
liked to preach to. Now and then facing a mob, 
or being wet through in a thunderstorm, or stop- 
ping to get information in regard to some old 
ruin. Between sermons he refreshed his mind with 
all sorts and conditions of books. On the pleasant 
road to Chatham he reads Tasso's "Jerusalem 
Delivered." On the road to Aberdeen he loses 
himself delightedly in the misty sublimities of 
Ossian. "Orlando Furioso" is good Saturday 
reading. The eager octogenarian confesses that 
" Astolpho's shield and horn and voyage to the 
moon, the lance that unhorses every one, the all- 



i 9 o MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

penetrating sword, and I know not how many- 
impenetrable helmets and shields " are rather too 
much for his sober English imagination. Still, 
they afford an agreeable interlude in his mission- 
ary journeys. Sterne's "Sentimental Journey" he 
finds very absurd, and " notable chiefly for its 
unlikeness to all the world beside." Still, it is not 
unpleasant to read. 

"Riding to Newcastle, I finished the tenth 
Iliad of Homer. What a vein of piety runs 
through his whole work in spite of his Pagan 
prejudices ! " 

On his way to preach to a congregation of 
Christians for whose salvation he was solicitous, 
he refreshed his mind by reading the " Medita- 
tions of Marcus Aurelius," of whose salvation he 
had no doubt. " What a strange Emperor ! What 
a strange Heathen ! " 

Preaching to a congregation of dour Scotsmen 
he urged them as the first duty to cultivate a better 
disposition. " I preached from l Cor. xiii, 1-2, in 
utter defiance of their common saying : ' He is a 
good man though he has bad tempers.' 'Nay,' 
said I, ■ if he has bad tempers he is no more a 
good man than the Devil is a good angel.' " 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 191 

I should not go so far as Wesley. The good 
man with a bad temper is a recognized variety. 
We must accept him as a stubborn fact. His joy- 
less efforts to rectify the world are genuine, though 
they create in the heart of the natural man an un- 
fortunate prejudice against rectitude. 

But we can say that such a good man's effort 
would be much more effective if his disposition 
were pleasanter. 

Jonathan Edwards went as missionary to the 
Indians in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, at a time 
when Stockbridge was not so pleasant a place of 
residence as it is now. It was very self-sacrificing 
in him. Still our sympathy goes out chiefly to 
the Indians. 

Dr. Grenfell, on the other hand, falls short of 
Edwards's ideal of disinterested virtue, for he 
frankly admits that he likes Labrador and its 
ways. When he returns, instead of melting the 
hearts of the Ladies' Auxiliary by the story of 
his hardships, he fires the minds of their growing 
boys with the desire to run away and be mission- 
aries themselves. Yet the Labrador fishermen get 
more out of it than they would if Dr. Grenfell 
did not have such a good time. 



1 92 MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 

When we read Borrow's "Bible in Spain" we 
feel that Borrow would have gone to Spain any 
way, even if there had been no Bibles to dis- 
tribute. Nevertheless his natural affinity for gyp- 
sies, muleteers, and picturesque vagabonds of all 
sorts, enabled him to carry the Bible into out- 
of-the-way places which would never have been 
dreamed of by a zealous person of sedentary 
habits. 

Those whose sense of duty has been strongest 
have often acknowledged their indebtedness to 
other contributory motives. When that able and 
pious New England Puritan, Thomas Hooker, 
felt that it was his duty to remove his congre- 
gation from the banks of the Charles River, 
and found a new colony on the Connecticut, he 
presented the question of duty to the General 
Court. 

" The matter," says Governor Winthrop, " was 
debated divers days and many reasons were 
alleged pro and con." 

But the decisive consideration was presented 
last, namely, " The strong bent of their spirits to 
remove thither." This consideration finally carried 
the day in spite of the argument that " the re- 



MISSIONARY LIFE IN PERSIA 193 

moving of a candlestick is a great judgment 
which is to be avoided." 

There is always something to be said in favor 
of the strong bent of the spirit, whether it tends 
toward Connecticut or Persia. 



THE COLONEL IN THE THEOLOGI- 
CAL SEMINARY 



HOW the Colonel got the appointment to 
the Chair of Military Science in the Theo- 
logical Seminary would be too long a story to 
tell. Indeed, it was a little peculiar that there was 
any Chair of Military Science in the Theological 
Seminary. It constituted, as the young man who 
wrote it up for the newspapers remarked, "one 
of the most unique features of the institution." 

There was no mystery about the chair, how- 
ever. A wealthy gentleman had left funds for its 
endowment, and the Trustees had not been in- 
clined to look a gift horse in the mouth. They 
accepted with the idea that they might, perhaps, 
secure a clergyman who had been a chaplain in 
the militia, and who, after a few lectures on the 
manual of arms, might quietly change the sub- 
ject to something more definitely related to the 
work of the ministry. It was only by accident 
that they got a retired army officer. 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 195 

I confess that I was prejudiced against the new 
chair, for I am naturally opposed to fads of every 
description ; I am also opposed to war, except as 
a last resort. I disliked to see the wave of mili- 
tarism sweeping over the Theological Seminary. 
It seemed that young men should here be trained 
in the arts of peace. I feared that there might be 
a recrudescence of controversy or militant sectari- 
anism. Instead of disinterested search for truth, 
there might be only a planning for visible suc- 
cess. I even feared the methods of the Salvation 
Army. The thought of a squad of students 
marching to the sound of drum and fife to a lec- 
ture on Apologetics offended my sense of the fit- 
ness of things. 

But when I met the Colonel my fears vanished. 
He had the fine simplicity of mind that is char- 
acteristic of the best men of his profession. He 
had the mildness of countenance which comes 
when " grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrin- 
kled front." Moreover, he was evidently a spirit- 
ually-minded and free-minded man. If he would 
sacrifice everything for success, he had an exceed- 
ingly high ideal of those things wherein true suc- 
cess consists. He was a believer in arbitration so 



196 THE COLONEL IN 

far as the controversies between nations are con- 
cerned. The cruelty and waste of the physical 
strife had been impressed upon him, and the 
thought that the time was fast approaching when 
a more excellent way of settling differences would 
come. For a time he felt that his occupation was 
gone. But he was at heart a soldier. The ideal 
aspect of his profession had fascinated him. Mor- 
ally he delighted in the soldierly virtues of cour- 
age, loyalty, patience, and obedience to rightful 
authority, — the virtues that belong to the ordered 
life of armies. Intellectually the problems which 
fascinated him were those of generalship. Here 
the mind was dealing not merely with the uni- 
form movements of nature, but with the incalcu- 
lable powers of another and active mind. Here 
quickness of perception, steadiness of will, and 
comprehensiveness of judgment were tested at 
every step. Military genius seemed to him the 
most wonderful exhibition of pure intellect. 

He wondered sometimes what would become 
of the militant qualities he so loved and ad- 
mired when — 

the war drum throbbed no longer and the battle-flags were 
forled. 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 197 

It was then that the idea of the world as a spir- 
itual battlefield came to him. Here was a conflict 
of forces, a good fight to be fought. He looked 
about for some organization fitted to make a 
strong stand against the evils of the world. He 
realized the significance of the term The Church 
Militant. That was enough for the Colonel. All 
the ardor of youth was rekindled. He saw at once 
the irrepressible conflict between those who were 
banded together in behalf of a spiritual ideal, and 
the forces of sensuality and selfishness, " Here is 
something," he said, " that can't be arbitrated. It 
must be fought out. The Church Militant has, I 
believe, the right of it, but the question is, is it 
strong enough to win out? Has it mobilized all 
its forces, and is it prepared to assume the strate- 
gical offensive ? " 

When he was called to the Chair of Military 
Science in the Theological Seminary, the Colo- 
nel accepted with alacrity. It was just what he 
was looking for. He took it for granted that in 
a training school of officers in the church mili- 
tant, the chief concern would be the solution 
of the problems connected with attack and de- 
fense. These gallant men were to overcome the 



198 THE COLONEL IN 

world; they must learn the scientific way of 
doing it. 

I have often regretted my own complete ignor- 
ance of military science, for in my capacity of vis- 
itor at the Theological Seminary I attended many 
of his lectures. Some of his technical terms I only 
imperfectly understood, and many of his allusions 
were to affairs with which I was unfamiliar. Some- 
times, too, his earlier enthusiasms got the better 
of his later purposes, and he would spend a morn- 
ing over the campaigns of Marlborough, illustrat- 
ing every move with topographical charts, but 
leaving no time to point out the bearing of all 
this upon the work of the ministry. But I believe 
there always was an association of ideas in the 
Colonel's mind. 

Perhaps from my imperfect notes I may give 
some idea of his main contentions. Here is a por- 
tion of his introductory lecture. 

" Young gentlemen, you may have been trou- 
bled, as I have been, by questions as to the limita- 
tions proper to the study of military science in 
this institution. It appears on the face of it to in- 
clude everything necessary to the successful con- 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 199 

duct of your profession. But a glance at the cur- 
riculum shows that many other branches are 
taught here. In fact, your profession may be 
approached from several directions. The most 
familiar approach is through the ancient and hon- 
orable science of husbandry. A knowledge of 
agriculture and of the care of flocks has always 
been insisted upon. 

" Bishop Hugh Latimer, in his admirable ser- 
mon on ' The Plough ' insisted on careful training 
in this matter. 

" ■ The preacher and the ploughman may be 
likened together first because of their labour of all 
seasons of the year, for there is no time of the year 
in which the ploughman has not some special 
work to do ; as in my county of Leicestershire the 
ploughman has a time to set forth and essay the 
plough, and at other times for other necessary 
work. The ploughman first setteth forth his 
plough, and then tilleth his land and breaketh it 
in furrows, and sometimes ridgeth it up again, 
at another time harroweth it and clotteth it and 
dungeth it, and hedgeth it and diggeth it and 
weedeth it. So the preacher hath a busy work 
with the people, now casting them down with 



200 THE COLONEL IN 

the law, now ridging them up with the gospel, 
now weeding them by telling them their faults, 
now clotting them by breaking their stony hearts/ 

" Latimer made a plea for the labor that pro- 
duced the necessaries of the spiritual life, rather 
than the fancy horticulture that went in for lux- 
uries. ■ The preaching of the word of God unto 
the people is called meat. The Scripture calleth 
it meat, not strawberries.' 

" My colleague who instructs you in Pastoral 
Care has doubtless made you familiar with the 
history and methods of the cultural work of your 
profession. 

"But I sometimes fear that the agricultural 
aspects of your work, important as they un- 
doubtedly are, may have been emphasized at the 
expense of that which is equally vital. A too 
pacific and yielding temper of mind is the result 
of a training that ignores the elements of conflict. 

"The lack of attention to military science 
manifests itself in a number of ways. For exam- 
ple, I have often noticed the way in which the 
members of your profession interpret the call of 
duty to what they speak of as ' a larger field of 
usefulness.' I have no reason to doubt their dis- 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 201 

interestedness, but I have been often amazed at 
what they called a larger field. Frequently they 
will evacuate a strategic point, leaving an impor- 
tant part of the field open to the enemy, and re- 
tire to a position of no importance for offensive 
operations. I could not understand the movement 
till it was explained to me that they are accus- 
tomed to use the word "field" in an agricultural 
rather than in a military sense. They are not 
thinking of it as a field of battle, where a lonely 
hilltop may be the key to the situation; they are 
thinking of a field fenced in and under pastoral 
care. 

"Not long ago I was invited, on a Monday 
morning, to a ministers' meeting which discussed 
the present condition of religion. Knowing that 
the situation is critical, I went with keen expect- 
ancy. 

" The company was divided, not in regard to 
the expediency of any particular movements, but 
only by temperamental differences. Some felt 
that everything would come out right if let alone ; 
these were called optimists. Others, who were 
somewhat reproachfully called pessimists, agreed 
very contentedly that everything is going to the 



ao2 THE COLONEL IN 

dogs. Neither side suggested that they could do 
much about it one way or the other. 

" ' Gentlemen/ 1 said, ' I understood that this was 
to be a council of war. Instead of a plan of cam- 
paign you seem to have brought out a clinical 
thermometer in order to take each other's temper- 
ature. On the eve of an engagement the question 
is not how you feel, but what you intend to do. 
Nobody is interested in your symptoms. The 
only temper which befits men who are called to 
leadership is that which Wordsworth describes in 
his character of the Happy Warrior : — 

" < Who is the happy Warrior ? Who is he 
That every man in arms should wish to be ? 
— It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought 
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought 
Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought ; 

Who, with a natural instinct to discern 

What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn ; 

Abides by this resolve and stops not there, 

But makes his moral being his prime care ; 

Who, doomed to go in company with Pain, 

And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train ! 

Turns his necessity to glorious gain. 

" 4 You will observe that the Happy Warrior has 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 203 

a twofold task. He must have a knowledge of stern 
necessity, and a knowledge how to turn his stern 
necessity to glorious gain.' 

"In preparing myself for the duties of this 
professorship, I have been impressed by the fact 
that the art of spiritual warfare has not kept pace 
with that which is on the material plane. Anti- 
quated methods and theories, in regard both to 
equipment and tactics, are still tolerated. In many 
instances there seems to be little advance over 
the primitive notion of war as a series of dis- 
connected single combats. The Happy Warrior, 
accoutred in ancient fashion, will sally forth chal- 
lenging a foe that is perfectly disciplined and 
armed with weapons of precision. 

" 1 have noticed this lack of contemporaneous- 
ness in most attempts at treating this subject. In 
the seventeenth century John Bunyan published 
a military manual entitled ■ The Holy War.' It 
was an account of the operations around the for- 
tified town of Man-soul. Many individual acts 
of valor are narrated, but it is remarkable that 
throughout the campaign the forces of Immanuel 
were armed with the traditional weapons, — 
swords, spears, darts, slings, etc., — while only 



2o 4 THE COLONEL IN 

the Diabolian army seems to have understood 
the use of gunpowder. 

"Here, for example, is an account of one of 
the many attacks upon Man-soul. The investing 
army had concentrated its forces upon Ear-gate, 
which was in accordance with the usual tactics 
of the Puritans, they having been inclined to 
undervalue the strategic importance of Eye-gate 
and Feel-gate. 'Now they in the town had 
planted in the tower over Ear-gate two great guns, 
the one called High-mind and the other Heady ; 
unto these guns they trusted much.' 

" What follows is of great interest to the stu- 
dent of our art. ■ Now the King's captains brought 
with them several slings and two or three batter- 
ing rams, and with them they sought to break 
Ear-gate open. With much valour they let fly as 
fast as they could at Ear-gate, for they saw that 
unless they could break open Ear-gate they would 
in vain batter the wall. . . . But Man-soul held 
out lustily through the valour of Old Incredulity 
the Mayor and Mr. Forgetgood the Recorder, 
and the charge and expense of the war on the 
King's side seemed to be quite lost. And when 
the captains saw how it was, they made a fair re- 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 205 

treat and entrenched themselves in their winter- 
quarters/ 

"Bunyan, who was more interested in the 
moral than in the scientific aspect of the war, 
seems to have seen no connection between the an- 
tiquated weapons of the assailants and their ill 
success. No careful student, however, will be sur- 
prised at the failure of an attack upon artillery in 
an entrenched position, by a detachment provided 
only with slings and battering rams. 

" You, young gentlemen, will be called upon 
to make many attacks upon Ear-gate. It will not 
be enough that you are individually more valiant 
than Old Incredulity or Mr. Forgetgood. You 
must bring against them such superior force as 
will compel capitulation. 

"A sound military education involves much 
discipline. At your chapel services this morning 
you sang ■ Onward, Christian soldiers, marching 
as to war,' though in a way that suggested that 
more attention should be paid to company drill. 
Marching as to war is quite a different matter 
from strolling down the street. A perception of 
this obvious difference might have saved you from 
several mistakes which I noted. 



206 THE COLONEL IN 

"'Like a mighty army moves the Church of 
God.' This involves that branch of our science 
called Logistics, which includes all the details of 
the movements and supply of armies, and the 
choice of roads. It involves the ordering of the 
different divisions, that they may move so as not 
to interfere with one another, but may give mu- 
tual support in case of attack. 

" I fear that the training in Logistics has been 
neglected in the Theological Seminary, as I meet 
with graduates who scarcely know what to make 
of the mighty army when they see it in motion. 
All their arrangements are made on the assump- 
tion that the church is meant to be stationary, and 
that its officers should lead a sedentary life. Their 
chief concern is in the construction of permanent 
barracks. 

" Logistical considerations are ignored, not only 
by those who are averse to movements of any 
kind, but also by those restless spirits who are all 
the time advocating sudden and unrelated move- 
ments which are incapable of execution by any 
large force, encumbered, as it necessarily must be, 
by its heavy trains. They give no heed to Napo- 
leon's maxim that 'the secret of war lies in its 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 207 

communications.' They seem to imagine that 
armies can be moved hither and thither on the 
impulse of the moment. This is far from being 
the case. Moving a considerable number of hu- 
man beings from one place to another is always 
a transaction of considerable difficulty. The more 
experience a person has had, the more he realizes 
the embarrassments inseparable from moving-day. 
"To take an example from civilian life: a 
gentleman in moderate circumstances wishes to 
move his family, for the summer, to the country. 
In making his plans he has to consider, besides 
himself, his wife, six children, and two maids, — 
ten persons in all, — no very considerable force. 
But the problem of actually moving them to a 
specified position on a certain date involves stra- 
tegic combinations which almost reduce him to 
despair. He cannot move freely to any breezy 
hilltop which strikes his vagrant fancy. His choice 
is severely limited by considerations which he 
had at first view overlooked. There is the matter 
of transportation ; he cannot move too far from 
the railroad. He must look carefully at the water 
supply before he occupies an otherwise advanta- 
geous position. In case of a sudden call, he must 



208 THE COLONEL IN 

secure a line of retreat to the city, and make sure 
of constant communication with the butcher, the 
grocer, and the post-office. Even for the sake of 
bracing air and an excellent view, he dare not 
move too far from a yeast-cake. He may have 
started out with the most adventurous plan of 
campaign, but after consultation with the domes- 
tic Board of Strategy he determines to confine the 
summer movements well within the range of the 
commonplace. Even then, when the eventful day 
arrives his mind is ill at ease. Shall his little army 
move as one body ? He shrinks from the weight 
of responsibility that is involved. He determines 
to divide into two detachments advancing by 
parallel roads, then gradually converging and 
forming a junction at four o'clock in the after- 
noon. It is one of the simplest strategic manoeu- 
vres, and yet he knows from past experience how 
many chances there are against its complete suc- 
cess. 

" Now, if the problems of Logistics are so dif- 
ficult in the case of an honest householder who 
has not a single known enemy to molest him or 
make him afraid, what must they be for him who 
has to make all the arrangements of moving-day 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 209 

for a hundred thousand men, in the face of an 
energetic enemy. It must be remembered that 
the enemy can be treated as a negligible quantity 
only by the strategists of the easy-chair. 

" The critics of the church are accustomed to 
berate it for not doing at once all the admirable 
things which they see ought to be done. Their 
cry is like that which assailed the successive com- 
manders of the Army of the Potomac during the 
Civil War : ■ On to Richmond ! ' Even the most 
unsuccessful of the generals recognized the beauty 
of the advice, as a counsel of perfection. They 
were all anxious enough to be in Richmond ; 
what troubled them was how to get there. A very 
disquieting thought always in the background of 
a general's consciousness is that, if he makes a 
mistake, he may not have any army to move. 

" It will be your duty to be continually urging 
your fellow men to new exertions, but you will 
spoil your temper to no good purpose unless you 
know how much can reasonably be expected of 
them. You must carefully consider the obstacles 
to be overcome, and the provisions to be carried, 
and what is to be taken as a fair day's march. 
You must be aware that a great army taking per- 



2io THE COLONEL IN 

manent possession of the territory which it has 
conquered, and establishing itself in such a way 
that it cannot be dislodged, moves at a different 
speed from a detachment of cavalry on a raid. 
Occasionally you may have the exciting experi- 
ence of being on a raiding party, but as you rise 
into more responsible positions you must be pre- 
pared to deal with the more serious problems 
which confront an army of occupation. 

"The most perplexing situations arise in the 
course of any widely extended advance move- 
ment. An army advancing into the enemy's coun- 
try is continually losing strength at the front. 
There are always numerous stragglers, and large 
numbers of troops have to be left behind to guard 
the ever lengthening lines of communication. An 
army in an orderly retreat gathers in its stragglers 
and its rear guard, so that it is numerically aug- 
mented as it falls back. 'Attacking armies,' it has 
been said, 'melt away like the snow.' Napoleon 
in 1812 crossed the Russian frontier with 442,000 
men, and reached Moscow with only 95,000. 
In 1 810 the French crossed the Pyrenees with 
400,000, and after a successful advance reached 
the lines of Torres Vedras with only 45,000. 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 211 

Even the Germans in 1870, out of an army of 
372,000 which crossed the frontier, after a six 
weeks' campaign brought only 171,000 men to 
Paris. 

" You will note many illustrations of this law 
of the diminishing power of the strategic offensive 
in the conduct of the church militant. The most 
progressive bodies tend to waste away as they 
advance, while reactionary movements bring a 
rapid augmentation in numbers. For this reason 
many members of your profession seek a larger 
fellowship by retreating in good order to the po- 
sition they had left yesterday. They are much 
pleased to find so many friends tenting on the old 
camp ground. Their delight in these reunions 
speaks well for their amiability, but it sometimes 
interferes with their military efficiency. The les- 
son which the soldierly mind draws from the rapid 
diminution of the advance guard is that especial 
pains must be taken to keep it continually rein- 
forced. 

"A distinguished teacher of the art of war re- 
marks, 4 We are right in describing the ever di- 
minishing power of the strategical offensive as an 
unavoidable drawback, which has to be taken into 



212 THE COLONEL IN 

account and which invariably becomes more pro- 
nounced the longer the line becomes over which 
the attack advances. The existence of this draw- 
back requires that measures should be adopted in 
the way of organization and strategy continually 
to reinforce the fighting head of the army with 
reserves. The main roads in the rear of an advanc- 
ing army should never be allowed to become 
empty.' 

"I commend this advice to any of you young 
gentlemen who may have the honor to undertake 
any forward movement. The most gallant advance 
will be futile if you have neglected to provide a 
reserve force which may be brought forward ac- 
cording to the need." 

I have heard several members of the Faculty 
criticise the Colonel for the way in which he would 
trespass on the fields of his colleagues. I believe 
that this was altogether unintentional. Like Sir 
Philip Sidney, when he heard of a good war he 
went to it He was quite unaware that in doing 
so he disarranged the curriculum. One day I en- 
tered his classroom as he was beginning a lecture 
on the military principles of Homiletics. I was a 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 213 

little disturbed at this, as we had already a pro- 
fessor of Homiletics who was highly esteemed. 
However, the Colonel approached the subject 
from a different point of view. 

"The first essential of Homiletics," he said, " is 
that you should shoot straight. You have doubt- 
less already received instruction on this point, 
and I shall, therefore, confine myself to questions 
of tactics. 

"I went to church yesterday and witnessed a 
series of operations that filled me with dismay. 
The minister began by seizing a text as a base of 
operations. I observed that the base was not se- 
cure, but this made less difference, as he was evi- 
dently prepared to change his base if the exigen- 
cies of the engagement demanded it. His first 
mistake was one of overcaution. In order to de- 
fend himself from an attack from the Higher Crit- 
ics, he had strengthened his front by barbed wire 
entanglements in the way of exegesis. This was 
an error of judgment, as the Higher Critics were 
not on the field, at least in sufficient force to 
take the offensive. The entanglements intended 
to keep a hypothetical foe from getting at him 
prevented him from getting at once at the real 



2i 4 THE COLONEL IN 

enemy. He thus lost the psychological moment 
for attack. 

" While he was endeavoring to extricate him- 
self from his own defenses I trembled for the issue 
of the affair. Having finally emerged into the 
open, he was apparently prepared for vigorous 
operations. I watched intently for the develop- 
ment of his plan. I was bewildered by the rapidity 
of his evolutions. With a sudden access of cour- 
age he would make a wild charge against an an- 
cient line of breastworks which had long been 
evacuated. Then he would sweep across the whole 
field of thought, under cover of his artillery, which 
was evidently not furnished with accurate range- 
finders. The next minute he would be engaged 
in a frontal attack on the entrenched position of 
Modern Science. Just as his forces approached 
the critical point, he halted and retreated to his 
textual base. Re-forming his shattered forces, he 
would sally forth in a new direction. 

" At first I attributed to him a masterly strategy 
in so long concealing his true objective. He was, 
I thought, only reconnoitering in force, before 
calling up his reserves and delivering a decisive 
blow at an unexpected point. 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 215 

" At last the suspicion came that he had no 
objective, and that he did n't even know that he 
should have one. He had never pondered the 
text about the futility of fighting as 4 one that 
beateth the air/ 

"As we came away a parishioner remarked, 
* That was a fine effort, this morning.' 

" ' An effort at what ? ' I inquired. 

" How many such unfortunate enterprises 
might be avoided if there were a clear under- 
standing of a few guiding principles which have 
been deduced from experience on many a well- 
fought field. Among them are such maxims as 
these : — 

" Always attack where the moral effect will be 
greatest. 

" Strike the enemy's flank in preference to his 
front ; threaten his line of retreat. 

" Do not offer battle except on your own ground 
and at your own time. 

" Never attack unless you are in superior force. 

" Never knock your head against a strong posi- 
tion." 

The Colonel quoted with approval Lord Wol- 
seley's remarks on the best way of teaching mili- 



2 1 6 THE COLONEL IN 

tary history. " By far the most useful way of teach- 
ing military history is to find out from your books 
as far as possible what the situation was at a given 
time, then shut the books, take the maps, and 
decide for yourself what you would have done, 
had you been in the place of one of the com- 
manding generals. Then write your orders. You 
are thus dealing with a problem that actually 
occurred; and remember that war presents a con- 
stant series of such problems to every officer who 
may hold an independent command." 

The Colonel was accustomed to follow this 
plan. He particularly admired Chrysostom, whom 
he called the Napoleon of divines. He had the 
class make a special study of Chrysostom's ser- 
mons " Concerning the Statues." He first made 
them familiar with the details of the situation in 
Antioch. There had been a riot in which the 
statues of the Emperor had been dragged about 
the city. The Emperor, enraged, threatened ven- 
geance; a panic followed, then an embassy to 
ask pardon, and long days of terrified waiting. 
Each day the people flocked to the church for 
some word of help. 

" Put yourself in the place of Chrysostom and 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 217 

plan your sermons according to the changing 
situation. Meet each crisis as best you can. After 
you have done this, we may see how Chrysostom 
did it." 

Occasionally he would present a sermon for 
criticism. Thus, he asked the opinion of the class 
on a sermon by the fine old Puritan divine, John 
Howe, on "A Particular Faith in Prayer." Before 
he had reached Howe's fifteenthly, the unanimous 
opinion was that it had one fault, it was too long. 

" That is a point worthy of consideration," said 
the Colonel. " The undue extension of the lines 
is, under most circumstances, a cause of weakness. 
But you must remember that Howe was not con- 
ducting a vesper service ; he was preaching before 
Oliver Cromwell. His object was not to please 
Cromwell, but to convince him. This took time, 
for Oliver was prepared to resist stoutly every 
advance. We are told that during the discourse 
Cromwell was observed to ■ pay marked attention, 
but, as was his custom when displeased, knit his 
brows and manifested other symptoms of uneasi- 
ness/ 

" It is easy for you, young gentlemen, to criti- 
cise the deliberation of Howe's movements, but 



2i8 THE COLONEL IN 

the question is how you would improve upon it. 
Let me give you this exercise. You have Oliver 
Cromwell before you ' paying marked attention.' 
Your problem is to convince him quite against 
his will that he has been mistaken. You must 
make a careful preliminary study of Cromwell, 
and learn all that you can of the disposition of 
his moral and spiritual forces. Then make your 
plans accordingly. 

" After you have made two or three unsuccess- 
ful attempts to carry Oliver's position by storm, 
I imagine you may think more favorably of 
Howe's method. It was that of a regular siege. 
You will observe that he first makes a wide en- 
veloping movement which ends in a complete 
investment. Then his forces advance cautiously 
in two main lines, keeping under cover as much 
as possible. It is now a case for sapping and min- 
ing. To cover the approach fifteen parallels are 
constructed, — and in my opinion they were not 
too many." 

On one of my last visits to the Colonel's class- 
room he was discussing the present crisis in the 
Christian Church. He elucidated his ideas by 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 219 

means of the maps of Grant's battles in the Wil- 
derness. 

"The greatness of Grant consisted in his ability 
to do two things at the same time. He must make 
a strong fight at the front against Lee's army, and 
at the same time must change his base from the 
precarious railroad to the more effective water- 
ways. 

" The public were more particularly interested 
in what was happening at the front, and were de- 
lighted at Grant's declaration that he would 4 fight 
it out on this line if it takes all summer.' But the 
student of military affairs is most interested in 
what took place at the rear. 

44 The Christian Church is at this moment en- 
gaged in this most perilous, but often necessary 
manoeuvre, — a change of base in the face of the 
enemy, and as a part of a grand forward move- 
ment. 

44 There is a call for courage at the front, but 
the question is in regard to the communications. 
The line of communication, with the base in In- 
fallible Authority, has been cut; the necessity is 
to establish free and adequate communication with 
the ample supplies which are believed to exist in 



22o THE COLONEL IN 

the Religious Nature of Man, and in the Spirit- 
ual Realities of the Universe. 

"If this can be done in time, the advance 
against the strongholds of Sin can go on : if not, 
there is sure to be disaster. It is to arrest this dis- 
aster that you are to put forth all your efforts. 

" In the presence of the dangers that confront 
you, I must remind you of the difference which 
exists between war and all imitations of it. I have 
dwelt much on strategy and tactics, a knowledge 
of which I look upon as indispensable, but let 
me remind you that battles are not won in the 
armchair. The great thing is to have collected 
sufficient force and to put it forth to the utter- 
most. 

" In order to arouse the true professional spirit 
which is necessary for victory, I would recom- 
mend a recent book by a British naval officer, 
entitled ■ Heresies of Sea Power.' You will ob- 
serve that the same principles apply to the other 
branch of the service that we recognize in con- 
flicts on land. 

"The gallant writer analyzes the great sea 
fights of history ; in the attempt to find some law 
governing success he finds there is no trick by 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 221 

which a half-hearted power can overcome one that 
is alert and persevering and daring. 

"The only formula that he arrives at — that he 
sets forth as a conclusion of the whole matter — 
is fitness to win. 

" Who are those who are fit to win? not those 
merely who have the command of good material, 
but those who, having it, are impelled by an 
overwhelming desire to use it to the uttermost in 
carrying on the project in which they are engaged. 
4 The full possession of that desire,' he says, 'has 
implied caution where caution was required, rash- 
ness where rashness was the better way — but al- 
ways because of the fullness of the desire.' 

"The great cause of failure, he insists, has been 
feebleness of purpose. ' Whatever its inferiority 
in heavy guns cost the Spanish Armada, its in- 
ability to use effectively such guns as it had, and 
to secure sufficient ammunition for them, cost it a 
great deal more.' 

" You, young gentlemen, in preparing for act- 
ive service, should seek the best equipment pos- 
sible, but remember that ' fitness to win' is indicated 
not by mere superiority in heavy guns, but by the 
ability to use effectively such guns as you have.' , 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 



POLITICAL economy in its early career 
gained the reputation of being "the dismal 
science." But what used to be called Moral Sci- 
ence was a good second. To take up a text-book 
on the subject, published a generation ago, is 
painful in the extreme. The treatise seems to be 
but a series of lame apologies for its own exist- 
ence. 

Can there be such a thing as Moral Science ? 
The author candidly admits that until his appear- 
ance on the scene there had been none. Before 
you can have a science you must know what it 
is about. You must define your subject-matter. 
Whereupon he begins to pick flaws in all the de- 
finitions that have hitherto been made. It appears 
that most of those who have attempted to deal 
with the subject did n't know Morality when they 
saw it. They have been acutely analyzing some- 
thing else. 

Having given his own definition, he then pro- 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 223 

ceeds to defend it against all comers. He loves it 
for the enemies it has made. He successfully re- 
futes all criticisms made by other Professors of 
Moral Science, who, it appears, are not so wise 
as they might be. 

It is a good definition, and the only thing that 
remains is to find out whether it fits the facts in 
the case. It appears that this is rather difficult, 
for facts come in odd sizes. Good men whom we 
happen to know, or whose biographies we have 
read, ought to act in strict accord with the ascer- 
tained laws of Moral Science. But many good 
men are not Strict Constructionists. Even the 
gentlemen who endowed the Chair of Moral Sci- 
ence may not have proceeded strictly according 
to rule. It is necessary, then, to make some ad- 
justments between the Moral Law and the con- 
duct of the respectable classes of the community. 

One watches the process of adjustment as the 
frugal householder, when he undertakes to do 
the family marketing, watches the butcher who 
is selling him four pounds of lamb chops. First 
the meat, for which the market price is exacted, 
is carefully weighed. There is something gener- 
ous in this transaction, and trifles are not taken 



224 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

into account. But in the delivery of his goods the 
butcher uses the intensive method. He proceeds 
conscientiously to trim each chop to the delicate 
proportions demanded by the epicure who will 
eat only the best. The trimmings he throws into 
a receptacle provided for them. The householder 
meekly accepts the precious remnants which are 
finally awarded him, and wends his way home- 
ward. As he walks, he wonders why he did not 
get all that he paid for. 

So the Professor of Moral Science, after he has 
shown us the Moral Law in its entirety, proceeds 
to pare it down. It seems that there are parts of 
it that mar the symmetry of the science, when 
viewed as a practical one. He cheerfully throws 
away the non-essentials. We look wistfully at 
these non-essentials. The few essentials that are 
left may be nourishing, but they are not filling. 

The suspicion grows that the ethical element 
in the life of man is likely to escape scientific 
analysis. Science deals with existing things. It 
can trace their origin, it can follow their devel- 
opment, it can classify them. But the subject- 
matter of ethics is not an existing thing at all. It 
is not something that has been done, but the idea 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 225 

of what ought to be done. To the ethical inquirer 
the actual is only the point of departure in the 
quest of the morally possible. If you do not be- 
lieve that it is possible for men to be better than 
they are, then ethics will not interest you. If you 
do believe that they can be better, the question 
will arise, How much better ? To this there can 
be no scientific answer. We are not dealing now 
with things as they are but with " things that are 
not," which continually do "bring to naught 
things that are." 

It is possible to make an inventory of so much 
good as has been produced. This is the residuum 
of past effort, it is not the effort itself. Science 
cannot lay hold of "the fleeting image of the 
unstable Best." It can justify and explain the 
conduct of law-abiding citizens, but it cannot 
measure the worth of one who is " numbered 
among the transgressors" because he obeys a 
higher law. It can define conventional morality, 
but it cannot follow those generous spirits who 
pass beyond these limits in their search for " the 
unimagined good of man." It is baffled by that 
spiritual unrest which characterizes the more ardent 
lover of righteousness when " for new heavens he 



226 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

spurneth the old." It is dreary business raking 
over the embers of old camp-fires. Those whom 
we seek to know are now lighting new camp- 
fires on the distant hills. 

A lover of the mountains and the woods writes : 
" A curious distinction made itself evident : that 
between riding through a country with the sole 
object of getting somewhere, and surveying a 
mathematically straight line." 

Perhaps we may make a compromise with the 
believers in scientific ethics. There is work for 
the moral surveyor. An accurate survey of exist- 
ing conditions is most desirable. But whether 
these conditions are to be improved the survey 
cannot determine. That depends upon the hidden 
powers of the will. 

The great pathfinder is the man who is impelled 
by a mighty desire to go somewhere, and who has 
the skill and courage to find or make a way. He 
dares to go where other men have not trod. His 
well-trained eye discovers the distant mountain 
pass, and he declares it to be practicable, when 
other men see only an insuperable barrier. He 
does not follow a mathematically straight line, 
determined by instruments of precision. He does 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 227 

not even know, beforehand, what he shall find. 
But by his efforts new regions are discovered, 
which other men may, in time, survey. 

To ethics conceived of as a knowledge of the 
way in which deeds of daring rectitude are done, 
the most natural approach is not through Science 
but through Poetry. The best life is not one that 
conforms to a rule, but one that is drawn towards 
an unseen goal by an unconquerable desire. It is 
faint praise to say of any one that he did as well 
as might be expected under the circumstances. 
Our hero must surprise us by doing something 
more than could have been expected. We refuse 
to allow the circumstances to be presented as a 
sufficient explanation of his act 

To a person of prosaic temper the moral life 
is like a ride in a taxicab. It is so much for so 
much. The intelligent passenger can at any mo- 
ment look up and see his progress registered with 
automatic precision. At first it is a pleasure to 
see how rapidly he is getting on; but after a time 
he observes that his progress is registered in dol- 
lars and cents. Then he prudently remembers 
that he has no call to go further. 

There is a point where prudential considera- 



228 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

tions call a halt on moral idealism. This in any 
community can be determined with scientific 
precision. Those who talk of "economic deter- 
minism " have this in mind. Every man's moral 
standards, they say, are determined by the way 
he gets his living. He is as good as he can afford 
to be in his line of business. Determine accu- 
rately the conditions of his bread-winning occupa- 
tion, and you will know how far he is likely to 
carry the Ten Commandments or the Golden 
Rule. 

There is a great deal of truth in all this and the 
rule works out pretty well when we are dealing 
with large averages. The doctrine was long ago 
stated by a shrewd observer who had been " going 
to and fro in the earth and walking up and down 
in it." A man's character and conduct, he declared, 
are governed by his economic condition. Take 
one who is most affluent and exemplary and see 
what will happen to him when you take away 
his property. " Put forth thine hand upon him 
and touch all that he hath and he will curse thee 
to thy face." 

It must be confessed that in the experiment 
which was long ago recorded, this prognostication 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 229 

was largely verified, at least in the judgment of 
three respectable gentlemen. When they came 
to visit Job they were shocked to discover that 
he did not seem to be nearly so good a man as 
he was when he had seven thousand sheep and 
five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred asses 
and a very great household. Then they had 
found in him little to criticise, but now he had 
fallen into bad ways and talked very much like 
an anarchist. 

" I think I could be a good woman if I had 
five thousand a year," said Becky Sharp. And all 
Vanity Fair would agree with her; that is, she 
could be a pretty good woman on that income, 
though of course not so good as if she had ten 
thousand a year. There are some virtues that 
come high. 

Social reformers find in the doctrine of eco- 
nomic determinism a powerful argument. People 
in general, they say, are as honest and generous 
as Society will allow them to be. It is useless to 
appeal to them to improve their characters. Im- 
prove their condition, and their characters will 
take care of themselves. 

This is excellent as an argumentum ad bomi- 



2 3 o THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

nem, addressed to the good people who are trying 
to save souls while oblivious of the conditions 
under which people live. But it fails when ad- 
dressed to those who are the victims of injustice. 
Victims they are, but is it true that they cannot 
help themselves ? If so, there is nothing to appeal 
to against the malign fatalistic influence that holds 
them down. If men cannot be better than the 
conditions under which they live, then how are 
these conditions to be bettered ? Must the masses 
wait till the privileged classes come to their res- 
cue ? That were a vain hope if the possession of 
privilege condemns those classes to the narrow 
views and selfish aims which are an inseparable 
part of the system. 

Fortunately, the Social Reformer treats himself 
as an exception to the general law. He theoreti- 
cally reduces ethics to an inferior branch of eco- 
nomics, but he practically restores it to its inde- 
pendence when he begins actively to engage in 
economic reform. He does all sorts of unpopular 
and disagreeable things, and not a penny does he 
get out of it. He defies the opinion of his own 
class, and goes on his way as if it were not of the 
slightest consequence which side his bread was 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 231 

buttered on. He does n't wait for Society to im- 
prove him, so intent is he on his plans for im- 
proving Society. When you tell him that he 
ought to sit down quietly and wait till the times 
are ripe for the measures he sees to be desirable, 
he turns upon you savagely — "What do you 
take me for!" 

It appears, then, that there are exceptions to 
the law that men first ask, Does it pay ? and then 
argue that if it does it must be right. There are 
those who find it possible to move in opposition 
to their own personal interests. With them the 
moral flag does not always follow Trade. These 
persons may be exceptions, but it is in these ex- 
ceptions that the ethical inquirer is interested. It 
is more exciting to watch a ship beating against 
the wind than to see a log floating with the cur- 
rent. 

When we come to think about it we see that 
all that is determined beforehand is the point up 
to which a person may be righteous in safety and 
comfort. If he wants to go further he must take 
his chances. A man who wishes to cultivate cour- 
age and not get hurt should wait till the battle is 
over. Otherwise he may never be able to enjoy 



2 3 2 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

the contemplation of his own virtue. But it may 
be that he is not that kind of man. 

Fortunately there are always those who like to 
take chances and who do not care over-much for 
being comfortable. They have a love of adven- 
ture. To them life is not like riding in a taxicab 
with their eyes upon the fare indicator. They are 
of vigorous habit and prefer to go afoot. They 
push on in all weathers and take cheerfully the 
haps and mishaps of the road. They feel a whole- 
some curiosity about the way, but are not de- 
pressed when they do not know how they are 
coming out. 

Such persons are anxious to do something that 
is not too easy. They like to have every faculty 
tasked to the utmost. They would climb a moun- 
tain that has never been climbed before, they 
long to discover new lands and to try their sails 
in storms. When men of such temper turn to 
intellectual pursuits something happens. For their 
interests are on the outer edge of things. They 
go pioneering into new regions of thought. They 
are not acquisitive scholars but inquisitive inves- 
tigators. They leave the ninety and nine proved 
Truths, to follow a Perhaps through a wilder- 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 233 

ness of doubts. They enjoy the uncertainties of 
the pursuit, and each achievement is but the 
starting-point for a new experiment. All this 
comes not from a restless desire for novelty, it is 
but the overflow of energy. 

But the adventures of Doing and of Knowing 
are not so wonderful as the adventures of Being. 
To be something one has not been before is a 
greater accomplishment than to do or know some- 
thing not done or known before. For any crea- 
ture to discover new heights and depths in his 
own nature, to strike out new paths for his life 
forces to move in, to gain control over the incal- 
culable store of energy locked up within himself 
and to use that energy for ends which he himself 
freely chooses, this from the standpoint of the 
naturalist is impossible. 

But what strict logic starting with Natural 
Law declares to be impossible, that the moral 
impulse in man attempts with inconceivable 
audacity; human nature rebels against itself and 
proceeds to make itself over. Very early in the 
history of our race this inconceivable adventure 
began. We see rude tribes without arts or letters ; 
they are polygamists, and fighters, accustomed 



234 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

to tyranny, a prey to all manner of superstitions, 
and moved by appetite and passion. Yet out of 
the mass a man arises and says, " I will no longer 
be what my companions are and what I have been. 
I will no longer worship brute force, nor yield to 
passions that like great winds have borne me 
along hitherto. I will be chaste and just and gen- 
erous. I will not obey the powers whose might 
I see. I will yield myself to a Power I see not, 
but which shall give me at last my heart's desire. 
If all the world be against me, I will resist it till 
I overcome. I, the new creature, will do this, 
through the power of the Unseen and Eternal." 

The audacity of the declaration of moral inde- 
pendence is seen whenever we follow the anthro- 
pologist in his investigations of the habits and 
environment of the men who first made it. The 
words which express the familiar virtues — Tem- 
perance, Purity, Justice, Friendship, and the like 
— were daring paradoxes flung into the very 
teeth of Fact. They expressed what barbarians 
saw when, slowly emerging, they looked upward. 
They told of what ought to be, and was not. 
Some day, they said, we shall become what now 
is but a dream of perfection. Toward this perfec- 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS a 3S 

tion we will strive, lest we slip back into the 
brute. 

This struggle of an imperfect creature to per- 
fect himself forms the Romance of Ethics. Com- 
monplace moralists and commonplace scientists 
may treat the growth of moral ideals as a part of 
Natural History. But a man like Huxley, who 
took both Natural Law and Moral Law seriously, 
could not be satisfied with any such treatment, 
which would lead only to the conclusion of a 
pseudo-optimism, that " whatever is is right." 

This is a dreary conclusion, and a travesty of 
Faith. It is a way of saying that all the ills from 
which men suffer are irremediable, and that we 
might as well pretend that we like them. The 
contention of Ethics is that much that is is wrong, 
and that it is our privilege to make it right, and 
the sooner we go about our work the better. 

Leave out the element of " huge, heroic mag- 
nanimity," and History ceases to interest us. It 
becomes only an insipid narrative of prearranged 
events. We do not care for it until we see heroes 
struggling with circumstances. 

Why, we ask, does not some one give us a 
book of Ethics from the point of view of heroic 



z 3 6 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

youth? In such a book we should see Duty 
through the shimmering haze of romantic ex- 
pectation. It is a noble hazard. It appeals to the 
native chivalry of the uncorrupted soul. Here is 
something to be done worthy of your powers. 
Will you do it? Ethics should be the story of 
the way the call is answered. It should make us 
see each power of the man sallying forth to meet 
its adversary. We would have, not an analysis of 
the virtues, but an account of the way in which 
they comport themselves in action. 

It happens that a man of genius did the very 
thing we are asking for long before we were born. 
In an age when the wonders of the new world 
were being opened up and men's hearts were 
stirred by the discoveries, it occurred to " the sage 
and serious Spenser" to write a Romance of Ethics. 

Addressing Queen Elizabeth, he tells how — 

Daily through hardy enterprize 

Many great regions are discovered 

Which to late age were never mentioned. 

Who ever heard of the Indian Peru ? 

Or who in venturous vessell measured 

The Amazon's huge river now found trew ? 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 237 

Or fruitfullest Virginia who did ever vew ? 

Yet all these were when no man did them know. 

In the " Faerie Queene " Spenser pictured the 
moral life as it appeared to the gallant gentlemen 
of his day who were anxious to know how much 
they might make of themselves. Instead of attend- 
ing a lecture on the Scientific Basis of Morals, let 
us sit down in their company, and consider what is 
meant by virtue. We may take our place with 
the " right noble and valorous Sir Walter Raleigh, 
Knight," to whom is given an explanation of the 
whole intention of the discourse, which is "an 
allegory or continued darke conceit." The gen- 
eral end " is to fashion a gentleman or noble per- 
son in virtuous and gentle disposition." 

We may therefore dismiss from our minds all 
questions of profit and loss or careful considera- 
tion of wages. The noble person we have in mind 
is not moved by such considerations. He has an 
ambition to become all that a man should be, and 
he is willing to pay the cost. 

As the central figure in the allegory we will take 
Prince Arthur, "in whom is sette forth Magni- 
ficence in particular which virtue is the perfec- 
tion of all the rest and containeth in it them all." 



2 3 8 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

This is a virtue that has often been overlooked 
by those who have the care of youth. They make 
much of prohibitions, and not enough of noble 
incitements. They do not picture the good life 
as a magnificent achievement calling into play 
all virile powers. 

But while Virtue is one it manifests itself in 
various ways. There is more than one kind of 
goodness as there is more than one kind of evil. 
In the soul of man are diverse powers, each called 
into action by a new emergency. Let us then 
think of the several virtues as brave knights go- 
ing each upon a quest of his own, yet uniting at 
last in Arthur's court. 

As each goes forth, he cannot see what will 
befall him, but he is content to venture. We shall 
see how they bear themselves as they ride forth 
wondering but unafraid. Of course we must ex- 
pect no such well-connected story as is told by 
those who deal with accomplished facts. " For an 
historiographer discourseth of affaires orderly as 
they were donne, accounting as well the times as 
the actions ; but a poet thrusteth into the mid- 
dest even where it most concerneth him, and 
there recoursing to things past, and divining of 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 239 

things to come, maketh a pleasing analysis of 
all." 

That this analysis is not to be scientific goes 
without saying. It will be enough if we see the 
behavior of virtues like Holiness and Temper- 
ance, Chastity and Friendship and Justice when 
they get into difficulties. We thank the author 
for taking us into his confidence as he concludes 
courteously, " Thus much, sir, I have briefly over- 
ronne, to direct your understanding to the wel- 
head of the history, that from thence gathering 
the whole intention of the conceit ye may, as 
in a handfull, gripe all the discourse which other- 
wise may happily seeme tedious and confused." 

Let us begin with Holiness; the ardent desire 
for spiritual perfection, the human capacity for 
worship and self-denial. What is Holiness like? 
How shall we picture it to the imagination? It 
is, we say, a meek virtue. It is like a gray-bearded 
palmer, with downcast eyes, going along the way 
to his holy shrine, heedless of the world, and by 
the world unheeded. We fear that this virtue 
will not appeal to these gentlemen who had been 
doing so many magnificent things. 

We turn to the first book of the "Faerie 



2 4 o THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

Queene " and read of the Red Crosse Knight, or 
Holiness. 

A gentle knight was pricking on the plaine 
Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde 
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine, 
The cruell markes of many a bloody fielde. 



Full jolly knight he seemed and faire did sitt 

As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt. 

Upon a great adventure he was bond. 

Perhaps this might be enough of the "Faerie 
Queene " for one day. It would be of little use to 
go further unless we come to an agreement with 
the author in regard to the nature of Holiness. 

When we consider the spiritual history of man 
we will come to see that Holiness could not have 
survived in the struggle for existence if it had not 
been stronger than we had thought. It was out of 
the welter of sensual propensities that the aspira- 
tions and the reverences of men have emerged. 
It is only as Humanity has grown strong and 
self-assertive that it has rebelled successfully 
against the tyranny of the senses and declared its 
allegiance to a spiritual power. What " old dints 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 241 

of deepe woundes " remain ! How fierce the strug- 
gle has been ! What we call the higher life has lifted 
itself above the brutal impulses which once bore 
rule. No wonder that Holiness bears himself like 
a valiant gentleman. 

But Holiness does not ride alone. 

A lovely ladie rode him faire beside. 

This was Una, the Lady Truth. We see Holi- 
ness and Truth riding together into the mysteri- 
ous forest — 

Foorthe they passe with pleasure forward led 
Joying to heare the birdes sweete harmony. 

What happens next? That happens in Faerie- 
land which happens here to our constant bewil- 
derment. Holiness and Truth go forth together on 
untried ways; and they get lost. Led with delight 
they miss the way. 

They cannot finde that path, which first was showne 
But wander too and fro in waies unknowne. 

So many paths, so many turnings seene 

That which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been. 

They meet with Error in the form of a dragon, 
and Holiness in the love of Truth slays it. This 
is not a hard task, for the knight is expecting 



a 4 2 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

Error to appear in just such monstrous forms. 
But soon Error appears in the form of an aged 
man, sober "and very sagely sad," who brings 
them to a place that seems to be the abode of 
simple piety. 

A little lowly hermitage it was 
Downe in a dale, hard by the forest's side, 
Far from resort of people who did pas 
In traveil to and froe; a little wyde 
There was a holy chappell edifyde 
Wherein the hermite dewly wont to say 
His holy thinges each morne and even-tyde. 

They rest unsuspectingly in the hermitage. At 
midnight the old hermit 

to his studie goes, and there amiddes 
His magick bookes and artes of sundrie kindes 
He seekes out mighty charmes to trouble sleepy minds. 

Under the influence of superstition Holiness 
comes to believe that Truth is unfaithful, and 
flees from her. 

The guilefull great enchaunter parts 
The Red Crosse knight and Truth, 

Unto whose stead faire Falshood steps 
And workes him woefull ruth. 

It is a story familiar to all who have tried to 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 243 

follow the history of religion. We follow the 
Red Cross Knight into the House of Pride, with 
"its faire windows and delightful bowers" and its 
doleful dungeons underneath. We see him yield- 
ing to the blandishments of the false Duessa, who 
masquerades as Fidessa, or the Faith. The knight 
wanders far and at last falls into captivity to the 
giant of spiritual arrogance. But all the time we 
feel that there are helpers seeking him through 
the forest glades. 

Truth shall at last find Holiness and restore 
him to the light of day. But she first must win 
strength. The Truth that is to win back Holiness 
must be the truth of action and not the truth of 
tender reverie. Una finds Prince Arthur the em- 
bodiment of magnificent action, and together 
they seek the captive. 

When, after having slain the gaint, they reach 
the castle, they find the Old Warder Ignorance 
in charge. 

At last with creeping, crooked pace forth came 
An old old man with beard as white as snow, 
That on a staffe his feeble steps did frame 
And guyde his wearie gate both too and fro, 
For his eye-sight him fayled long ygo, 



244 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

And on his armes a bunch of keyes he bore 

The which unused rust did overgrow : 

These were the keyes of every inner doore 

But he could not them use, but kept them yet in store. 

His reverend haires and holy gravitee 
The knight much honor* d as beseemed well 
And gently askt where all the people bee 
Which in that stately building wont to dwell, 
Who answered him full soft, He could not telL 

Then asked he which way he in might pas 
He could not tell, againe he answered. 

Again and again the Prince questioned old 
Ignaro, but always received the same answer. 
The giant of spiritual pride had been killed in 
fair fight, but pious Ignorance could hardly be 
disposed of in this violent way. At last the Prince 
does what the gentlemen of the sixteenth century 
did under the same circumstances ; he pushes the 
old guardian of the place aside. 

Then to him stepping, from his armes did take 
Those keyes and made himself free enterance. 

After many adventures Truth and Holiness 
are united. They come into the true House of 
Holiness, which is very different from the House 
of Spiritual Pride. 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 245 

This is indeed not the end, for in the Romance 
of Ethics there is no end. Not once but many 
times must the Red Cross Knight be separated 
from Una. Each advance in knowledge must 
bring a fresh bewilderment to the spiritual na- 
ture of man. Even in the hour of reunion, when 
" swimming in that sea of blissful joy," there come 
suggestions of a new quest with its partings and 
wanderings. But this is enough for one book. 

Now strike your sailes, yee jolly mariners 
For we be come unto a quiet rode, 
Where we must land some of our passengers, 
And light this weary vesseil of her lode. 



On the long voyage, and then againe abroad. 

If a committee of good women were looking 
for a new text-book on Temperance for use in the 
Public Schools, they might be disappointed in the 
treatment of the subject in the second book of 
the " Faerie Queene," Sir Guyon, or Temperance. 
Indeed, Temperance had not then been confined 
to the conscientious disuse of alcoholic beverages. 
It was a virtue of very wide application. 

But I should not regard any one as a fit teacher 
of youth who is not able to grasp Spenser's main 



246 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

intent and to sympathize with it. He represents 
Temperance not as a kind of weakness to be pro- 
tected, but as a kind of strength to be exercised. 
This is a point of view which we sometimes miss. 
In our solicitude for the weak whom we would 
shield from temptation, we forget the needs of 
those who are naturally strong, and in whom 
should be kindled an admiration for one of the 
manliest of the virtues. 

Sir Guyon is no weakling. He appears "all 
armed in harnesse meete." His way leads him 
by the Idle Lake, through the House of Mam- 
mon and the Bower of Blisse. He sees the Gulfe 
of Greedinesse and the Quicksands of Un- 
thriftyhed and the Whirlpoole of Decay. He sails 
on wide waters wherein are the Wandering Is- 
lands. He is tempted by soft voices and "faire 
eyes sweet smyling in delight." He hears songs 
fitted to " allure frail mind to careless ease." Even 
Scripture is turned against him, and the temptress 
bids him consider 

The lilly, lady of the flowring field. 

Consider how sumptuously she lives with " the 
flowre deluce her lovely paramoure." 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 247 

Yet neither spinnes nor cards, ne cares nor fretts, 
But to her mother Nature all her 'care she letts. 

Why should he go on u seeking for daunger 
and adventures vaine ? " 

SirGuyon, being no paragon but only a knight- 
errant, sometimes forgets himself. But when he 
remembers what he is and whither he is bent, he 
overcomes temptation. Temperance, it appears, 
is a form of personal liberty. It is the determina- 
tion of a strong man to be himself and to go 
about his own business. The Bower of Blisse 
may have its attractions, but they must not keep 
him from his quest. 

Much wondred Guyon at the fayre aspect 
Of that sweet place, yet suffred no delight 
To sincke into his sense, nor mind affect, 
But passed forth and lookt still forward right, 
Brydling his will, and maystering his might. 

It were well to have every boy taught to think 
of Temperance as something more than a series 
of prohibitions. It is the effort of a strong man to 
master his might. 

If the believer in romantic ethics has the pa- 
tience to read on to the fifth book, or the wit to 
skip to it, he will find something to his advantage. 



a 4 8 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

There he will find Sir Artegall, or Justice. It is 
not Justice injudicial robes weighing the spent 
deeds of wrong. Justice fully armed rides forth 
into the world resolved to prevent crimes against 
weakness. What weakness needs is strength. 
With Justice goes Talus, or Power, to execute 
his will. 

His name was Talus, made of yron mould, 

Immoveable, resistlesse, without end, 

Who in his hand an yron flale did hould 

With which he thresht out falshood and did truth unfould. 

Sir Artegall, "who now to perils great for jus- 
tice sake proceedes," is no sentimentalist. Justice 
is not merely something to be proclaimed. It is 
something to be done in the face of opposition. 

Whoso unto himselfe will take the skill 

True justice unto people to divide 

Had need have mightie hands for to fulfill 

That which he doth with righteous doome decide, 

And for to maister wrong and puissant pride. 

For vaine it is to deeme of things aright 

And makes wrong doers justice to deride 

Unlesse it be performed with dreadlesse might, 

For powre is the right hand of Justice, truly hight- 

Sir Artegall has no easy path. It is more diffi- 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 249 

cult to prevent wrongdoing than to punish, and 
there is no help from precedent. Wrong takes so 
many different forms. 

Sir Artegall attacks Special Privilege. A cruel 
Pagan had built his castle by a bridge across 
which all people who did business must go, and 
all who passed that way must pay him tribute. 
Sir Artegall declared that there could be no pri- 
vate ownership of what was by right a public 
way. In the battle that followed the Pagan was 
slain, the castle razed, and the evil-gotten goods 
" scrapt by hooke and crooke " destroyed. 

Sir Artegall undid the evill fashion, 

And wicked customes of that bridge refourmed : 

Which done unto his former journey he retourned. 

But he had not gone far when he saw a mighty 
giant standing on a rock with a huge pair of bal- 
ances in his hand. Around him flocked an admir- 
ing multitude. The giant was telling them that 
there were no longer any superiorities, and that 
by his balances he could make things weigh 
whatever he wished them to weigh. 

Special Privilege had been destroyed, now 
Justice must contend against the unbalanced 
enthusiasm of the mob. Here was new work for 



a 5 o THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

the sword of Artegall and the iron flail of Talus. 
On days when there were no great public wrongs 
to be righted, there were many private wrongs 
requiring his attention. Doing justice is in a world 
like this a continuous performance. A knight- 
errant of less tough fibre would have become 
querulous when he perceived that his work was 
never completed. But Sir Artegall had learned to 
fight his battles one at a time. So as night came 
on he would let others do the worrying. 

But Artegall himselfe to rest did dight 

That he mote fresher be against the next day's fight. 

It is this impression of resilient energy which 
comes as we watch the adventurers in Faerieland. 
Each is intent upon his quest and not depressed 
at its continually changing difficulties. Sir Cali- 
dore, or Courtesy, as he sets out, meets Sir Arte- 
gall, who is returning. 

Where ye ended have there I begin 

To tread an endlesse trace, withouten guyde, 

Or good direction how to enter in, 

Or how to issue forth in waies untryde, 

In perils strange, in labours long and wide. 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 251 

What is that quest, quoth then Sir Artegall, 
That you unto such perils presently doth call ? 
The Blattant Beast, quoth he, I doe pursew 
And through the world incessantly doe chase 
Till him I overtake or else subdew : 
Yet know I not or how or in what place, 
To find him out, yet still I forward trace. 

They talk together in the forest and then take 
courteous leave. 

Now God you speed, quoth then Sir Artegall, 
And keepe your body from the daunger drad, 
For ye have much adoe to deale withall. 

" There is no book," said Landor, " so delight- 
ful to read in or so tedious to read through as the 
4 Faerie Queene.' " In this it is like that History 
of the Moral Struggle of Man, of which it is an 
" allegory or darke conceit." What is more im- 
possible to read through than the story of the way 
in which our ethical ideals have struggled for ex- 
istence during all the ages past ? One moral issue 
succeeds another and then is lost sight of in the 
moment of its victory. We lose our way among 
the numberless details. 

But how delightful it is to read in ! Wherever 
we dip into the story, in whatever century or 



252 THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 

land, we see some hero fighting against great 
odds for an idea. Each age flings its challenge at 
the feet of its valiant youth. And in each genera- 
tion valiant youth takes up the challenge, and 
the moral life of the world is renewed. 

The experience of all the yesterdays cannot 
enable us to determine the issue of to-day's con- 
flict. We must await the event. With the com- 
ing of new ways of thought the Red Cross Knight 
and Una are again separated. The lover of spir- 
itual beauty is estranged from simple truth. 
Where may the reconciliation be found ? Will 
our Sir Artegall be strong enough to clear the 
way of all who have built strongholds across the 
public road and who take toll of every passer- 
by? How goes it with Sir Calidore as he chases 
the Blatant Beast of vulgar manners and brutish 
desires ? 

There is the same romantic uncertainty as to 
what may happen, and the same confidence in 
the powers that are engaged, as when the adven- 
tures began. 

We read again, — 

The noble heart that harbours virtuous thought 
And is with child of glorious great intent 



THE ROMANCE OF ETHICS 253 

Can never rest until it forth hath brought 
The eternall brood of glorie excellent. 
Such restlesse passion did ail night torment 
The flaming corage of that Faery knight. 

After all, what matter the mere happenings "in 
this adventures chauncefull jeopardie"? What- 
ever happens the restless passion for perfection, 
the flaming courage, the glorious great intent 
remain. These bring forth the eternal brood of 
glory excellent. 



THE MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 



U TT takes a newspaper man to get it right," he 
A said, handing me the programme of a play 
given by an undergraduate fraternity, and a no- 
tice of the same in the morning paper. The pro- 
gramme announced the play as "The Merry 
Devil of Edmonton," while the newspaper stated 
that the undergraduates had revived the old 
Elizabethan comedy of " The Merry Devil of Ed- 
ucation," once attributed to Shakespeare. 

" These youngsters make the most absurd mis- 
takes when dealing with the names of famous 
people. Perhaps some of them have never heard 
of me, though they are themselves only one of 
my pranks. Shakespeare was just the man to 
write me up." 

The Merry Devil balanced himself on the 
edge of my desk and beamed upon me benevo- 
lently. I felt that I had known him all my life. 
There was nothing of the Mephistopheles about 
him. The twinkle in his eye was evidence that 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 255 

he had never been disillusioned. He had found 
it good to be alive. He seemed to be the incar- 
nation of generations of incorrigible truants who 
were saying to their schoolmasters, " Educate us 
if you can." 

" I hope you believe in Education," he said. 

" Yes, " I answered, " I have always been 
taught to think highly of it." 

44 So do I," said the Merry Devil, " if it is n't 
carried too far. My business is to see that it is n't. 
By the way, have you ever listened to a com- 
mencement address on, The Whole Duty of a 
Scholar in a Democracy; or something of that 
sort?" 

I replied that I had heard a number of such 
discourses, and that they impressed me as con- 
taining sound advice for youth. 

u Precisely so. Every June armies of young 
men and maidens listen to such advice in re- 
gard to the duty they owe to the community, 
and they go forth resolved to practice it. I sup- 
pose they would practice it if they knew how." 

" But I thought Education meant the knowing 
how?" 

44 Now, you might think so if you hadn't any 



256 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

experience with educated people. Let 's see, what 
is it that a liberal education does for one who 
has it ? It enables him to do whatever he has to 
do 'justly, skillfully, and magnanimously.' Why, 
if all your educated young people learned to act 
in that way there would be a revolution every 
year. One thoroughlyjust and magnanimous per- 
son can upset a community, if he 's skillful. Just 
imagine what a million such persons would do if 
they were let loose on the world at the same time ! 
I don't like to think about it." 

But soon the countenance of the Merry Devil 
cleared and he looked up with a sunny smile. 

" Things are n't so bad as they might be, are 
they? You are not troubled with too many just 
and magnanimous young people down your 
way ? You have to thank me for that. It 's not 
that I do not admire high scholarship. I like to 
see a great scholar who knows his place and 
keeps in it. I read an article in one of the maga- 
zines about a navy yard that can construct the 
biggest war vessels, but the authorities had for- 
gotten to make a channel deep enough for them 
to get out. That is the way it ought to be. I like 
to see intellectual Dreadnoughts whose draught 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 257 

does not allow them to navigate the home waters. 
They give the public a respect for scholarship 
and at the same time do not interfere with any- 
practical interests. 

"You see I'm working on conservative lines. 
All that Our People ask is to be let alone. We 
want to keep things about as they are, on a sound, 
healthy, unintelligent basis. We don't believe in 
removing any fine old abuse, so long as we can 
get anything out of it. A lot of things are going 
on for no other reason than that folks don't know 
any better. Now I'm an optimist and believe 
that whatever 's good for me is the best possible 
thing for the other fellows who can't help them- 
selves. As long as they don't know any better 
and don't try to help themselves, affairs run 
smoothly. The minute they begin to use their 
minds they make trouble. Have n't you ob- 
served the number of 'problems' there are in 
these days ? It 's the result of allowing education 
to go too far. In the good old days there were n't 
any problems, there were facts. If a hundred 
people died of a typhoid fever, that was a regret- 
table fact. And if the next week another hun- 
dred died, that was another regrettable fact. But 



258 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

there were no meddlesome persons who made 
trouble for the water company. I tell you there 's 
too much recrimination in these days. There's 
a way of educating people that makes them un- 
charitable. When things go wrong they are likely 
to blame somebody. 

" I actually heard a College President admit, 
in public, that the aim of his institution was to 
stimulate intellectual curiosity. Just think of it ! 
If he had said that the aim was to satisfy intel- 
lectual curiosity, that would have been all right. 
Boys will be boys, and college is as good a place 
as any in which to get over their natural inquisi- 
tiveness. If the young fellows are allowed four 
years in which to sow their intellectual wild oats, 
they can then settle down as respectable members 
of society and do no more thinking than other 
people do. 

"But to deliberately stimulate intellectual 
curiosity ! That would be like sending a lot of 
youngsters with lighted candles to investigate the 
methods of manufacture in a powder mill. I 
don't care how much a person knows. I regard 
that as his misfortune, not his fault. What I object 
to is that he should want to know. It is an un- 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 259 

comfortable habit of mind. The man who wants 
to know is never satisfied until he gets at the 
bottom facts. Now the bottom facts are providen- 
tially placed where they are so as not to attract 
attention. That 's where they belong, and they 
should be kept there. Our People don't like to 
have unauthorized persons poking about and 
finding out things that ought not to be known. 

" Some of the ablest men of my acquaintance 
tell me that intellectual curiosity is ruining the 
country. Curiosity makes a man discover some- 
thing which he thinks is wrong; and then he 
tries to do something about it. That 's what Our 
People call hysteria. When people are hysterical, 
they won't take what we offer them. They want 
to know whether it's good for them; as if that 
mattered. It has gone so far that everything is 
investigated. Now you can't expect able men to 
give their talents to looking after their own inter- 
ests if they are meddled with in that way. It dis- 
tracts their minds. By and by the able men will 
be discouraged, and instead of developing the 
great industries they will go to writing books, or 
painting pictures, or teaching kindergartens, just 
to pass away the time. And then our industries 



260 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

will go to ruin, and the Japanese will catch us. 
A great many able men feel that way, and ex- 
press themselves very strongly. 

" I find the same feeling among those who are 
being interfered with in politics. A gentleman 
who has been carrying on the affairs of a great 
city and receiving no pay but such as came ■ on 
the side ' showed me the report of a Bureau of 
Municipal Research. It was positively insulting. 
The men who got it up did n't even know what 
a bureau is. A bureau is a device for getting 
things done by referring them to another bureau 
that refers them back. But these fellows got up 
a bureau for finding out why our bureaus don't 
work, and why they cost so much. The report 
was full of figures. We had no objection to that, 
for we can figure too. But the mischief of it was 
that these figures were arranged so that you could 
tell what they meant. It was a bare-faced attempt 
to gratify intellectual curiosity. 

" My friend said that if this thing kept up, he 
would give up politics in disgust, and live on the 
interest of what he had already got out of it. 

"He said that the whole system of govern- 
ment, as he understood it, consisted in getting 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 261 

experts to run it. The public is the owner of a 
high-powered machine ; the professional politician 
is the chauffeur. If the chauffeur wants to take 
friends out for a ■ joy ride,' the owner oughtn't to 
complain. He can't get along without the chauf- 
feur, for he does n't know how to run the machine 
himself." 

"But," I asked, "couldn't he learn how?" 

" Yes," said the Merry Devil, " I suppose he 
might, if he took the trouble." 

" Then," said I, " I take it that the kind of 
education you object to is the kind that makes 
people take the trouble to look into things." 

" Precisely," said the Merry Devil, " I hate to 
see people take the trouble to look into things. 
It induces the habit of discrimination. Now that 
is n't healthy. In a state of nature people take 
everything for granted. Why shouldn't they? 
It shows confidence in human nature. I like to 
see people respectful to their betters. If they 
allow themselves to ask, 'Are they really our 
betters ? ' that is n't respectful. You can't have 
an aristocracy — not a good comfortable aristo- 
cracy — where people ask questions. By the way, 
have you ever met a Captain of Industry ? " 



262 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

"Yes," I said, "at least that was what the 
newspapers called him." 

"What struck you as his most interesting 
characteristic ? " 

" It struck me that he was very rich." 

"That is, he had more money, you think, than 
was good for him ? " 

" I don't know about that, but he had more 
than was good for his children." 

" Did it ever occur to you," said the Merry 
Devil, " that it was curious that a captain got so 
much out of the service as that ? Even a major- 
general does a good deal of hard work for small 
pay. He can't lay up much. Are you sure that 
your friend was n't an army contractor instead of 
a captain ? " 

"Now that you mention it," I said, "I do 
think he talked more like an army contractor. I 
thought, at the time, that he was n't very soldierly, 
especially when I found that he did n't know any- 
thing about his men. He said that all his men 
are on the other side. He seemed to think that 
was the normal situation." 

The Merry Devil laughed heartily. " Just see 
where you are coming out, and just because I 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 263 

asked you two or three questions. You have come 
to the conclusion that the gentleman you admired 
was n't a Captain of Industry at all, though the 
newspapers said he was. It is n't safe to ask ques- 
tions, unless you are willing to hear the answers. 

" When Thomas Carlyle invented that term 
Captains of Industry, it scared Our People half 
to death. Carlyle's idea was that the time had 
come when persons would take up business as 
one goes into the army. An officer has to think 
of the army first and himself afterward. If he 
doesn't, he's cashiered. We were afraid that a 
large number of youths might be educated in 
that way. When we saw some of the Captains of 
Industry who passed without question, we were 
greatly comforted." 

The Merry Devil continued in a more chas- 
tened mood. "It isn't merely the person who is 
looking after his own interests, who should be 
protected against intellectual curiosity. Disinter- 
ested persons who spend their lives in doing good, 
make the same complaint in regard to certain 
kinds of education. You know we don't object to 
people trying to do good, so long as they don't 
succeed. It serves to keep them busy, and it takes 



264 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

their minds off themselves. We like to see them 
move in the line of the least resistance. The easier 
their good work is for them, the less it interferes 
with our plans. We like to see righteousness 
moving in ruts. It 's only when it breaks out in 
an unexpected place that it 's dangerous. But in- 
tellectual curiosity gets people out of their ruts, 
and sometimes they run wild. Education, if it 
is n't carefully looked after, is a disturbing influ- 
ence. It more than doubles the labor, and makes 
a good man dissatisfied with himself. 

u The other day a minister, a worthy man, took 
me into his confidence, and told me his troubles. 
He had been gifted with a strong voice and a 
confident manner, and had acquired a reputation 
for eloquence. He had by constant practice over- 
come the timidity which comes to a public speaker 
when he stops to think whether what he is about 
to say is worth while. He did not need to stop to 
think, he was such an easy speaker. He never 
was at a loss for a word, and would use the words 
as a life-preserver as he struck out boldly for his 
next head. He knew that he would always be 
buoyed up in this way, so that the preparation of 
his sermons never interfered with his parish calls. 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 265 

"One day in the midst of a most eloquent 
passage he observed a man in the back pew with 
a look of intellectual curiosity in his countenance. 
He was evidently impressed by the volume of 
sound, and was trying to find out what it was all 
about. The minister said that instantly the same 
thought came to his own mind, and for the life 
of him he couldn't tell what it was about. Un- 
fortunately the man became a regular attendant 
and always looked interested. 

"The minister said that that one parishioner 
who insists on thinking while he is in church has 
caused him more mental disquietude than all the 
others put together. Sometimes a fine illustration 
is spoiled by seeing the look of inquiry as to 
what it illustrates. The man in the back pew has 
changed sermon-making from a pleasure to hard 
work. 

"Now what do you think of an education 
which makes life harder for good people ? When 
a man is doing his best, it 's taking an unfair 
advantage of him to raise the standard. It makes 
him unhappy." 

There was such a look of genuine commisera- 
tion that for the first time it occurred to me that 



266 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

my visitor was human, and I had been remiss in 
my attentions. 

" Do take a chair," I said, vaguely. 

"No, thanks ! I '11 sit on the curb of your ink- 
well." 

" I 'm afraid you may fall in." 

" No matter if I do. Ink is my native element." 

Then he chatted so pleasantly about the kind 
of education which he found unobjectionable that 
I was quite charmed with him. He believed sin- 
cerely in what are called " accomplishments," and 
was willing to have them carried to almost any 
extent. 

" I like," he said, " that good old term ' polite 
learning.' Now the first rule of politeness is not 
to contradict. So long as Learning does n't con- 
tradict, Our People are willing to treat it liber- 
ally and give it things. We don't make any 
bargain, but of course we expect it to back us 
up, or at least not to make any trouble. We 
don't care how long it takes a learned man to 
come to his conclusions, we are willing to humor 
him if he wants to use the scientific method, but 
his conclusions must be sound." 

" But what if the facts point the other way ? " 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 267 

44 He should be more careful in selecting his 
facts," said the Merry Devil. 

"Would n't it be better," I suggested, "if the 
learned man did n't come to any conclusion at 
all?" 

44 Yes," said the Merry Devil, " and that 's the 
way I work it whenever I can. You see there 
are two kinds of science, pure science and ap- 
plied science. Now pure science would be per- 
fectly harmless if we could keep people from 
finding it out, and applying it. I tell the profes- 
sors that they should be more careful and use 
obscure language wherever possible. Otherwise 
their pupils will draw conclusions. Sciences like 
Ethics and Sociology and History and Political 
Economy ought to be kept pure. I hate to see a 
man interested in affairs teaching such subjects." 

44 1 suppose," I said, 44 that you are afraid that 
the students would come to see that these are af- 
fairs that they have to deal with." 

44 It 's a real danger," said the Merry Devil. 
44 Now I feel a tender affection for Truth. I don't 
like to see it exposed." 

44 It seems," I remarked, 44 that you do not 
agree with the pragmatic theory that Truth is 



268 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

something that makes a difference, and that a 
thing which does n't make a difference is n't true." 
" 1 don't quarrel about words, and if a thing 
does n't make any difference I don't care whether 
it 's true or not. I tell Our People that they 
need n't worry about Education so long as I look 
after it. I know communities that are full of edu- 
cated men, and they don't make any difference. 
Now what 's the harm in it ? I have personally 
conducted parties through all the branches of 
learning, and they were not in the least affected 
by it. What I most enjoy is to experiment with 
a successful self-made man. He is an easy mark 
and will pay liberally for an educational gold 
brick. He has made his own way in the world 
by force of ability and hard work. But when it 
comes to his son he is the most credulous crea- 
ture alive. He is ready to believe that something 
can be had for nothing. When he sends his son 
to college the last thing he thinks of is that the 
lad will have to work for all that he gets. He 
has an idea that a miracle of some kind is about 
to be performed in the enchanted castle of the 
Liberal Arts. The boy will have all sorts of 
things done for him. He will get Mental Disci- 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 269 

pline, which is a fine thing to have. Certain 
studies are rich in discipline. If he does n't elect 
these disciplinary studies he will doubtless get 
all the Mental Discipline he needs by living in 
the same town with a number of hard-working 
professors. Every college which has been a long 
time on the same spot has Ideals. The youth is 
supposed to get these Ideals, though he is uncon- 
scious of them at the time. In after years they 
will be explained to him at the class reunions 
and he will be glad that he absorbed them. To- 
wards the end of his college course he will show 
signs of superiority to his parents, and there will 
be symptoms of world-weariness. He will be in- 
clined to think that nothing is quite worth while. 
That tired feeling is diagnosed as ■ Culture.' The 
undergraduate has become acquainted with the 
best that has been said and known in the world, 
and sees that it does n't amount to much after all. 
"The fellows who have to work their way 
have a hard time, but the sons of fortune may be 
educated with surprisingly little effort. They have 
so many advantages. I notice the same principle 
in some of the states where the educational test 
is pleasantly mitigated by what is called 'the 



270 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

grandfather clause.' A person with the right 
kind of grandfather does n't need to labor with 
the alphabet in order to be allowed to vote. It is 
assumed that he has certain hereditary qualities 
which are a good substitute for reading and writ- 

tog.* 

" I think that there 's a great deal in heredity," 
I said. 

" Yes," answered the Merry Devil, " there 's a 
great deal more in it than seems to come out." 

He then explained how he gained the confi- 
dence of the student and made his college days 
one long, bright dream. 

" He spends four care-free years without be- 
ing troubled by a serious thought. When the 
time is up I make use of the psychological 
method of suggestion. I suggest to him that now 
he has an education. And he does n't know but 
he has, — he has been exposed to it. 

"The very elaboration of our educational 
scheme makes it easier for me to circumvent the 
educators. It was different with the ancient Per- 
sians, who taught their youth to ride, to shoot, and 
to speak the truth. It was hard to sophisticate so 
simple a curriculum. You could tell what an 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 271 

educated man could do. If he habitually tumbled 
off his horse, and missed the mark, and told lies, 
you knew that he hadn't been educated. But 
nowadays you can't tell what turn a man's edu- 
cation may have taken. 

" Only the other day I met a man who seemed 
to me the most unintelligent person I had met in 
many a month. I tried him on all sorts of sub- 
jects of common interest, and could not get the 
slightest response. There seemed to be a lack of 
sympathetic imagination and a singular aversion 
to general ideas. I soon learned the reason. He 
was about to take the last degree, which was to 
cut him off forever from the unlearned world. 
He had passed through a terrible ordeal and had 
for a year or two been subjected to cruel and un- 
usual knowledge. He had taken a Trappist vow 
of silence upon all subjects unconnected with his 
Thesis, 'Some Minor Mistakes in Algonkian 
Etymology.' He was reduced almost to a shadow 
because he was afraid that the mistakes he had 
discovered were n't small enough. He must find 
some mistakes that everybody else had over- 
looked, in order to prove his capacity for Origi- 
nal Research." 



272 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

44 That seems reasonable enough," I said. " I 
suppose that he intends to go into original re- 
search as his life work, and that is excellent dis- 
cipline for him. It is a great thing to have a part 
in the Advancement of Science." 

" Advancement of Science ! Fiddlesticks ! " 
said the Merry Devil, " he is n't going in for any 
more research after he finishes his thesis. What 
he wants to do is to teach in a good school, and 
people have the idea that an infallible test is the 
capacity for Original Research." 

"But I should think that teaching half-grown 
boys was quite different ; indeed involved almost 
exactly the opposite methods and talents. The 
capacity which the ordinary teacher most needs 
is that of making the rudiments interesting. He 
is not intent on finding something new, but it is 
his business to communicate ideas that are the 
common property of mankind. I should think 
that, after spending several years in minute study 
of some unfrequented bypath, he would not be 
very well fitted to conduct boys upon the main 
road, and make them interested in it. It would 
seem to me that he might lose something of the 
sense of proportion, which, after all, is quite an 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 273 

essential thing. Would n't it have been better to 
have spent the time in getting a strong grasp 
upon the most essential things, so that he could 
thoroughly humanize and idealize what he had 
to teach ? " 

" You don't understand," said the Merry Devil. 
" The important thing is to set a high standard." 

Then he began to dance about the room, sing- 
ing,— 

"Hi Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle, 
The cow jumped over the moon. 

"That was a high standard for the cow. It 
showed what she could do, even if she never tried 
to do it again. I suppose you may ask whether 
it added to her value as a plain family cow. Per- 
haps not, but it was interesting as a sporting pro- 
position. From my point of view there is a great 
advantage in having the ambitious scholar avoid 
the habitable parts of the earth, and spend a few 
years in some arid spot. A little of this aridity 
gets into his manner. A schoolmaster who has 
kept to the main road is likely to seize upon the 
salient points, and to show the relations of one 
thing to another. Such a person is likely to have 
an undue influence over boys. They might be- 



274 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

come as enthusiastic over scholarship as over 
football. Before you know it, you would be back 
to the puritanical ideas of Milton of a school 
where there are ' such Lectures and Explanations 
upon every opportunity as may lead and draw 
them in willing obedience, enflamed with the 
study of Learning, and the admiration of Virtue, 
stirred up with high hopes of living to be brave 
men and worthy Patriots, dear to God and famous 
to all ages.' All the time the schoolmaster would 
be 'infusing into their young breasts such an 
ingenuous and noble ardor as would not fail to 
make many of them renowned and matchless 
men.' Does n't that sound hysterical ? Just think 
of inflaming them with the study of learning ! I 
say it 's the business of the teacher to cool them 
off. It all comes back to the talk about learning 
to do things, not only skillfully but magnani- 
mously. Is that what you want to encourage in 
schools that cost good money ? " 

" Magnanimity," I said, " is an excellent qual- 
ity." 

" There you are wrong," said the Merry Devil. 
" Magnanimity is not a quality, it 's a quantity, as 
you ought to know. It is, literally, big-minded- 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 275 

ness. There is something vulgar about bigness. 
A neat little mind is much more pleasing to a 
person of taste. If a man's mind is bigger than 
his business, it's awkward for him. It gets him 
into all sorts of trouble. He 's always seeing the 
other side, and going against his own interests. 
He gets himself so mixed up with the mass of 
mankind that sometimes he loses the chance to 
get ahead. And when he does get an idea into 
his head it 's hard to control him. You can't stop 
a magnanimous man by telling him that he will 
probably get hurt if he goes on. It 's hard to un- 
derstand his motives. My business is to keep 
magnanimity from getting too much of a start. I 
begin early. There is a great deal of magnanimity 
in small children. They go about with notions 
that are several sizes too large for them. When- 
ever I catch a youngster acting from a magnani- 
mous motive I put a little pusillanimous motive 
in its place. It acts like a charm. Parents and 
teachers like it because it makes discipline easier. 
They see results, and that 's what they want. Of 
course there are other results that they don't 
see. 

"Did you ever see," he continued, "a small 



276 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

boy helping his father in the garden? If the father 
has a large spade and a wheelbarrow the boy 
wants a little spade and a tiny wheelbarrow, so 
that he can help. It 's a privilege to be allowed to 
work for the family. You perhaps know Tenny- 
son's little poem called ■ Wages/ He says that 
all that heroes ask is • the wages of going on/ 
That sounds very magnanimous, — in a man. 
Almost all boys are like that to begin with. All 
they ask is the wages of going on, with people 
whom they admire and in something that seems 
to be worth while. Just think what a state of 
things there would be if they acted that way 
when they grew up ! 

u I suggest to the father that he had better pay 
the boy for all the little services which he had 
been doing for the love of it. In a little while the 
lad loses his magnanimous ways and drives a 
sharp bargain whenever he is sent on an errand. 
This pleases the father, for he knows now that 
his son will be able to hold his own. I work the 
same plan in school. There are all sorts of ways 
of taking the spirit out of a child. Nagging is 
one way, but foolish little rewards are often more 
effective. He can resent a punishment, but he 



MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 277 

cannot resent a reward of merit that he does n't 
want and that he knows he does n't deserve. He 
can only feel morally awkward at what is evi- 
dently an anti-climax. How would you feel if 
you had done a moderately heroic act, and the 
person whom you had rescued were to put his 
hand in his pocket and say, 'Here, my good 
man, is a silver dollar, — it is no more than you 
deserve.' Children are treated that way all 
the time — and some of them learn to like it 
Even in college you may see the student — a 
grown man — still working for ■ marks.' He has 
not come to the point where he works for the 
1 wages of going on.' " 

" In that case he does n't go on," I said. 

"No," said the Merry Devil, "not after he 
gets his diploma." 

The conversation drifted from one phase of 
the subject to another. I noticed that as long as 
we talked of systems and methods the Merry 
Devil retained his jaunty air. He was an old 
hand at finding the weak points in the best in- 
ventions. But when we came to mention the 
names of certain teachers, I thought I detected 
" a lurking trouble in his nether lip." There was 



278 MERRY DEVIL OF EDUCATION 

evidently a personal element which he could not 
easily deal with. 

" In spite of all your efforts," I said, " I pre- 
dict that you will be beaten at last. The business 
of training citizens for a democracy has just 
begun. Educational ideals have thus far been 
largely dominated by aristocratic preconceptions. 
The aim has been to train the few to rule the 
many, or at least to escape from vulgar contact 
with those beneath them. Education has been 
the badge of a superior class. 

" Such education was morally superficial. It in- 
vited pedantry. But to those who take democra- 
cy seriously education becomes at once the most 
difficult and the most necessary part of statesman- 
ship. Its aim is to enable the many to govern 
themselves and to realize the possibilities of their 
own nature. This is the affair not of the pedant but 
of the patriot. To me the significant thing is the 
power that lies in the personality of the teacher 
and which exerts an influence on the whole char- 
acter. Now I can tell you of a born teacher who — " 

" Oh," said the Merry Devil, holding up his 
hands, " I never claimed to be a match for a born 
teacher." 



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
U . S . A 



/^G. F. WAKFIELD A CO^\ 
(Booksellers A Stationers] 
\^ Hartford, Conn. J